by Tech. Sgt. Traci Howells
131st Bomb Wing Public Affairs
10/6/2015 - COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Amidst
a sea of black and gold, America's colors flew proudly as nearly 67,000
University of Missouri football fans honored 10 Missouri servicemembers
at Faurot Field here Saturday.
The recognition was part of the 17th annual National Adopt A Warrior
Program, hosted by the United States Exercise Tiger Foundation. The 10
honorees were chosen out of 79 nomination packages to represent active
duty, Guard and reserve component military members assigned in Missouri.
The honorees included Staff Sgt. Daniel Middleton, a tactical data link
coordinator from the 157th Air Operations Group at Jefferson Barracks
Air National Guard Base, Missouri. Middleton was recognized for his
work during a 240-day deployment in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom
and Inherent Resolve. As an interface control technician, Middleton was
responsible for providing an accurate air picture to combat aircraft
and ensuring the safety of flight of U.S. and allied combat aircraft
engaged in the Global War on Terror.
"It really means a lot that my supervision thought enough to nominate me
for this honor," Middleton said. "I didn't think I was doing anything
out of the ordinary, I was just doing my job."
The group was hosted for the weekend in Columbia. In addition to the
recognition ceremony, the group was treated to an awards banquet on
Friday night, as well as a breakfast the morning of the game. At the
banquet, Middleton received the Master Sgt. Lee A. Messina Trophy for
Outstanding Enlisted Achievement, and the U.S. Exercise Tiger
Foundation's Medal of Combat Valor.
The Adopt A Warrior Program is presented by the U.S. Exercise Tiger
Foundation, which was named after the Battle of Exercise Tiger in April
1944. During this U.S. Navy training exercise in preparation for the
D-Day assault on Normandy, France, eight allied ships were attacked by
German forces, and many lives were lost. However, the operation was
kept classified for more than 50 years and its heroes went
unacknowledged. The foundation's mission is to honor servicemembers
from all branches and ensure that no military Veteran is forgotten.
Susan Haines, the national executive director of the USTF, has overseen
the organization of the Adopt A Warrior Program each year since its
start. The planning, she said, is a15-month long process, and while one
event is taking place, the next year's is already in the works.
"In all of my 17 years, I've never gotten tired of organizing such an
awe-inspiring event," Haines said. "It is so wonderful to be part of a
program that honors our military."
The Missouri servicemembers honored are:
· Maj. Jack Windes, executive officer, 1-135th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion, Missouri Army National Guard, Whiteman AFB, Mo.
· Capt. David Leonard, deputy wing chaplain, 509th Bomb Wing, Whiteman AFB, Mo.
· Senior Master Sgt. Brian Little, advanced airlift tactics training
superintendent, 139th Airlift Wing, Missouri Air National Guard,
Rosecrans ANGB, Mo.
· Gunnery Sgt. Sidney Richards, assistant Marine officer instructor for
the Navy ROTC at the University of Missouri, Columbia, Mo.
· Sgt. First Class Colon Estrada, 94th Engineer Detachment, Canine Company, Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
· Master Sgt. Dan Hatch, acting chief, 442nd Fighter Wing, Air Force Reserve Command, Whiteman AFB, Mo.
· Tech. Sgt. Dustin Schwartz, assistant section chief, 442nd Fighter Wing, AFRC, Whiteman AFB, Mo.
· Sgt. Lori Beth Singer-Bare, E Company, 1-148th Infantry Regiment, Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
· Staff Sgt. Charles Felker, senior drill sergeant, C Company, 1-148th Infantry Regiment, Fort Leonard Wood, Mo.
· Staff Sgt. Daniel Middleton, tactical data link coordinator, 131st
Bomb Wing, Missouri Air National Guard, Jefferson Barracks
Prior to the kickoff of the Mizzou-South Carolina football game, the
official party joined the honorees on the field for a special tribute to
military forces and a presentation of a wreath in conjunction with the
school's Military Appreciation Day event. The official party included
Gen. Robin Rand, Air Force Global Strike Command commander; Brig. Gen.
Paul Tibbets IV, 509th Bomb Wing commander; Brig. Gen. Randy Alewel,
commander, Land Component, Missouri Army National Guard; and Col.
Michael Francis, 131st BW commander.
The entire stadium became quiet for a moment of silence, and the crowd
paid their respects as the honor guard posted the colors and Marching
Mizzou played the national anthem. Two Whiteman T-38 Talon trainer jets
performed a flyover to wrap up the pre-kickoff ceremony.
"I'm very proud of all our members of the armed forces who were
recognized today. It really goes to show what high-caliber Airmen and
Soldiers we have serving this country," said Francis. "It was a
fantastic event and a great way to honor all of our Missouri military
members who do so much in service to our nation."