Billboard campaign honors Hometown Heroes
By Sgt. T.L. Carter-Valrie
| 12th Marine Corps District | November 29, 2005
HELENA, Mont. --
Marines, young and old, gathered in the capital city to unveil the first Hometown Heroes billboard at a ribbon cutting ceremony Nov. 29.
Despite bone-chilling weather, the event drew out national, state, and city officials, as well as many local business owners, community leaders and other great supporters of the armed services.
Sergeant Jonathan Ayersman, who grew up in Montana, was the first Marine to be honored with a Hometown Heroes billboard for heroic actions in Operation Iraqi Freedom II while serving as vehicle commander, D Company, 3rd Light Armored Reconnaissance Battalion, 1st Marine Division in which he was awarded a Bronze Star.
While providing security for civil affairs personnel at a hospital in Hit, Iraq, two light armored vehicles became stuck in marshy terrain. As recovery efforts began, insurgents began to attack their position. Despite being hit by shrapnel and his gunner's weapon malfunctioning, Ayersman kept a great presence of mind, maintained his advantageous firing position and continued to employ his machinegun until his actions broke the enemy's resolve.
"I am just greatly honored to be a part of this," said a very humble Ayersman.
It was the official kick-off to the 12th Marine Corps District campaign set to honor the men and women from the West Coast states who have shown extraordinary dedication and self-sacrifice through service to their country. The program is aimed at generating awareness in the hometowns of servicemembers who have been recognized for heroic action, among their friends, families and local communities.
“It is nice that we were the first to recognize one of the many hometown heroes in our area," said Maj. David Bradney, Recruiting Station Salt Lake City commanding officer. "It is more significant that the campaign has started.”
"We hear far to much about the victims and lose sight of the heroes among us," said Col. Arthur J. Corbett, commanding officer 12th Marine Corps District, as he addressed the crowd.
As a crowd gathered and local fire and police vehicles parked along side the billboard, Montana Lieutenant Governor John Bohlinger, a Marine veteran, performed the ribbon cutting honors with Ayersman by his side.
The Hometown Heroes program is sponsored by the Marines but recognizes all servicemembers who have fought beside them. The programs goal is to also honor the many local community heroes such as policemen, firemen, and civic leaders who have dedicated their lives to serve, protect and aid our nation on a daily basis.
"This nation is teaming with men and women that are willing to serve, willing to answer the call to duty," Bradney. "It is right and proper that they are respected and those that acquit themselves above and beyond are recognized as the heroes of our time. The citizens of this nation want to know about their heroes and it is our responsibility to tell their story."
To nominate a Hometown Hero or request more information about the Hometown Heroes Program contact the 12th Marine Corps District public affair office at (619) 542-5524 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.