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Armed Forces luncheon honors Colorado Springs-area troops

May 18, 2018 Updated: May 18, 2018 at 6:17 am
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Fifteen local soldiers and airmen were honored at the luncheon at the Doubletree Hotel. The honorees take turns singing their respective service songs after each received a statuette. Top troops were lauded on Thursday, May 17, 2018, at the city's annual Armed Forces Luncheon by the Colorado Springs Chamber & EDC. (Photo by Jerilee Bennett, The Gazette)

Top troops were lauded Thursday at the city's annual Armed Forces Luncheon, which highlights the accomplishments of soldiers and airmen at the five military bases in the Pikes Peak region.

The luncheon offers locals a chance to thank troops while giving the military the chance to thank the community that hosts them, leaders said.

"This is an amazing community," said Fort Carson Maj. Gen. Randy George, who delivered the keynote speech.

Leading up to the luncheon, troops at the bases compete for awards. After winning at small-unit events, they move on to larger competitions, and the best were honored Thursday.

"Today is all about paying tribute to outstanding enlisted troops and their families," said Bob Lally, who heads the Colorado Springs Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Council, the 77-year-old group of military boosters that backs the annual event.

Awards went to troops from the Colorado National Guard, Fort Carson and Peterson Air Force Base - three of 15 finalists that competed for honors given by the council.

Senior Airman Knollan Kashner, who serves with Air Force Space Command at Peterson, was honored for playing a critical role in a series of training exercises.

Sgt. Deborah Elliott, a recruiter for the Colorado National Guard, was honored for her military expertise and volunteer work with Pikes Peak Hospice.

Sgt. 1st Class Wolfgang McLachlan, with Fort Carson's 1st Space Brigade, earned the award for his work as a satellite expert. The former parachutist and Afghanistan veteran joined the space brigade after injuries prevented him from jumping out of planes.

During his speech, George highlighted the frenetic pace of operations that continues 17 years after America's invasion of Afghanistan.

Fort Carson already has two of its three combat brigades deployed to Afghanistan, and its helicopter brigade is heading out soon for a mission that will split its troops between Europe and the Middle East.

George said more deployments probably will follow.

"I fully expect our division headquarters and our division artillery to deploy somewhere in the coming months," he said.

That will leave the post with more than 12,000 soldiers overseas in the largest deployments seen since the height of the war in Iraq.

"It is as busy as I have ever seen it," George said.

He said the soldiers heading for war can leave knowing that their families have a community that supports them.

"Your perseverance in support of our soldiers and families makes us strong," George said.

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Contact Tom Roeder: 636-0240

Twitter: @xroederx

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