Military officials may call it the "Welcome Home Warrior Citizen Award," but to the nearly 150 Arizona reservists who received it Saturday the memento simply says "thank you."
"This is going on my wall," Staff Sgt. Rebecca Webb said.
Webb, 36, left behind two daughters, ages 8 and 11, when she was sent to Iraq for a year with the 751st Quartermaster Company, based in Mesa. She said she made it home for two weeks shortly before Christmas 2003 to see the girls, who stayed with Webb’s sister while she was away, but the separation was still rough on the family.
About 100 local soldiers were assigned to the 751st, which ran a supply depot that provided arms and other equipment to Army troops who were training a new Iraqi army. The unit was stationed in Al-Taji, about 20 miles north of Baghdad. The soldiers returned home in May 2004.
The welcome home award ceremony Saturday at Arizona State University Polytechnic in Mesa also included reservists serving in the 164th Corps Support Group and the 348th Transportation Company.
Webb said the award, which consists of an American flag, commemorative coin and a set of lapel pins, "represents the fact that we get some recognition for our efforts."
Spc. Mario Gomez, 30, who has been in the reserves since graduating from high school in the early 1990s and whose father and grandfather were both combat veterans, called the award, "a whole new meaning to patriotism."