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Aurora Chamber recognizes military members during annual luncheon

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.-- Winners from all United States Military components gather for a group photo at the 37th Annual Armed Forces Recognition Luncheon held at the Crown Plaza hotel, May 14, 2010. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Manisha Vasquez)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.-- Winners from all United States Military components gather for a group photo at the 37th Annual Armed Forces Recognition Luncheon held at the Crown Plaza hotel, May 14, 2010. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Airman 1st Class Manisha Vasquez)

BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Aurora Chamber of Commerce affiliates gathered to recognize 11 local military members of all services and components during the 37th Annual Armed Forces Recognition Luncheon May 14 at the Crown Plaza Hotel.

When Kevin Hougen, Aurora Chamber of Commerce president, spoke to the luncheon crowd, he talked about how impressed he was with members of the military and said AFRL is a way for the metro community that includes Aurora, Centennial and Denver to say thank you to the men and women who serve their country selflessly.

"It makes us proud that people like you are willing to serve our nation with such great honor, integrity and courage," he said. "Our military men and women are second to none. Those of you in uniform here today continue to uphold the great traditions of our free nation."

George Peck, a member of the Aurora Chamber who played a large role in the event, said he was very happy with this year's luncheon.

"This was the best we've seen so far," he said. "The Aurora Chamber Defense Council that organizes the luncheon each year had the good fortune to once again have Suzanne Pitrusu from Wells Fargo Bank volunteer to take the lead. She and her committee did an incredible job of bringing all the pieces together to make this a very memorable and moving afternoon."

Mrs. Pitrusu said she was very happy with the luncheon and feels like the community is becoming more engaged with the military every day. She said it was difficult to select the award winners because all the nominees were deserving in their own right.

Staff Sgt. Meagan Hill, 460th Force Support Squadron and winner of the active duty Air Force category, said she was shocked when her name was called. She said she was up against seven other outstanding individuals and that made the award very special to her.

"I feel very honored to be recognized by the Chamber and appreciate the generous gift bag I received," she said.

The other winners were:
Air Force Reserve - Tech. Sgt. Gayla Amor Romanowsky, Air Reserve Personnel Center
Air National Guard - Tech. Sgt. Richard Gibbons, 140th Wing
Army Reserve - Sgt. Zachary Morin, USAR 5th Brigade 75th Division
Army Active Duty - Sgt. Maegan Unthank, Aerospace Data Facility-Colorado/743rd Military Intelligence Battalion
Army Guard - Spc. James Schaedler, 157th Field Artillery
Navy Reserve - Petty Officer 1st Class Vernon Bell - Navy Operational Support Center-Denver
Navy Active Duty - Petty Officer 2nd Class Gerrion Purnell - NIOC Denver/ADF-C
Marine Reserve - Sgt. Chad Shaw, Marine Air Control Squadron 23
Marine Active Duty - Sgt. Dale Scott Steinecke, Jr., MACS 23
Coast Guard - Petty Officer Zekiel Schobernd, ADF-C/Coast Guard

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