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Tampa Mayor Recognizes Guardsmen With Unusual Honor

Members of the 290th JCSS proudly representing Florida as they begin their deployment in Southwest Asia.

Members of the 290th JCSS pose for a group photo at the beginning of a recent deployment in Southwest Asia. (courtesy photo)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Darius Carter and Airman Ahkeen Benjamin with help from others in the 290th Joint Communication Support Squadron “B-Flight” troubleshoot the setup and configuration of a JBlox baseband equipment at MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa Fla., May 3, 2015. The JBlox baseband equipment is used to connect phones and computers to satellite systems. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Troy Anderson/ RELEASED)

U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Darius Carter and Airman Ahkeen Benjamin with help from others in the 290th Joint Communication Support Squadron “B-Flight” troubleshoot the setup and configuration of a JBlox baseband equipment at MacDill Air Force Base, Tampa Fla., May 3, 2015. The JBlox baseband equipment is used to connect phones and computers to satellite systems. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Troy Anderson/ RELEASED)

Jacksonville, Fla. -- Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn honored local Air National Guardsmen by officially proclaiming today as "290th Joint Communications Support Squadron Day." This is the first time in history a Florida Air National Guard unit was recognized with a mayoral proclamation of this kind.

"As far as the city of Tampa is concerned, the 290th is the only unit that can truly claim that we are Floridians and we belong to the city of Tampa," said Lt. Col. Matthew Giles, commander of the 290th Joint Communication Support Squadron (JCSS). "This is a reminder that Tampa has said 'Thank you.'"

Giles said it's extremely important to recognize the service and sacrifices of his Airmen, their families and even veterans who now work out in the community. So, he created a draft proclamation identifying both state and federal missions 290th JCSS Airmen supported, and requested that the 290th day of the year be named after them.

Michele Phillips, the state contact person for proclamations, researched and edited the request before sending to committee review. After reviewing the request, the committee passed it up to Mayor Buckhorn who signed and approved it.

"We thought this was a good thing to do," Phillips said. "This let's our whole area know that there are divisions in the military that do special things and they are worthy of a recognition of some kind."

Leadership announced the proclamation to all members of the 290th this morning during their regularly scheduled drill weekend, which prompted a celebration and increased esprit de corps among the Airmen.

"I'm excited to be part of such a great unit's that's being recognized this way," Airman 1st Class Brad Reinert said. "Knowing the impact we have for our brothers and sisters in uniform down range, keeping them in communication with who they need, it's very exciting and I'm very proud of that."

The proclamation recognized the 290th JCSS located at MacDill Air Force Base for providing tactical communications systems during times of crisis, war, and natural disaster recovery. Specifically, deployment teams from the 290th JCSS have participated in Operation Desert Shield, Operation Desert Storm, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom, and provided emergency assistance during Hurricanes Andrew, Opal, Charlie, Francis, Ivan, Jeanne, Dennis, Rita, Ike, Wilma and Katrina.

Giles said he appreciates everything his Airmen do for the state of Florida and the country, and he will continue to do everything in his power to promote their exceptional performance to the public.

"Over 600 Airmen have been mobilized since 9/11, and this past year, we've deployed Airmen to every continent except Antarctica," Giles said. "This is something to be proud of for everything the squadron has accomplished over the last 32 years."