Kim Quick says having a son deployed overseas was difficult. But nothing makes her more proud than seeing him safe back home -- and with his fellow soldiers -- to be recognized for their call to duty.
"I'm proud of them. Every last one of them," Quick said. "I am wearing a necklace he gave me when he deployed -- and I wore it every day."
Sunday was a historic day for the Vermont National Guard. The 3rd Battalion 172nd Infantry was awarded the Valorous Unit Award for exceptional service in Afghanistan in 2010. Officials say it was the first time ever the guard received this award.
"This award is not given out very frequently. It would be the equivalent to an individual receiving a Silver Star medal. It really shows the dedication and the professionalism in this unit and how well they perform while they were down range," said Vt. National Guard Cpt. Jasen Boyd.
The award was presented to the 600 soldiers in the battalion. It's the second highest honor a unit can receive -- second only to the Presidential Award. The battalion was boots on the ground in Afghanistan for nine months, where they completed 43,000 routine combat patrols, which included air assaults, and other task force operations.
"I'm proud to say that you also helped ensure the safety of district and parliamentary elections in Paktya Province, resulting in over 94,000 people exercising their right to vote," said Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
"As a battalion -- and especially a National Guard battalion, where we don't get to train together every day -- for us to be land-space owners, it was a huge responsibility for National Guard unit. And I feel we really stepped up and got the job done well," said Vt. National Guard Staff Sgt. Andrew Fryburg.
Staff Sgt. Andrew Fryburg has been with the guard for 11 years and says this battalion has always been about unity. He says many of his fellow soldiers don't make these sacrifices to be thanked, but that it was nice to be recognized together. "Today is great because it really acknowledges what all of us work so hard for, and it's just nice to see someone appreciating us," he said.
"It's not just you that we are incredibly proud of. It's also your families that make extraordinary sacrifices when you are in combat," said Gov. Peter Shumlin (D- Vt.)
"I am mighty proud to be here with you, but I gotta tell you... every Vermonter, every Vermonter is mighty proud of all that you did and the recognition that you are deservedly receiving today," said Rep. Peter Welch (D-Vt).
A group of soldiers with dedication and tremendous leadership. And for that -- will forever have this rare award.
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