Service & Sacrifice: A thank you to citizen soldiers

The stars and stripes atop a flagpole along Asheville Highway will fly until the two men who hoisted that American flag return home from a military mission overseas.

"I just wanted them to know how much we appreciate them for their service and sacrifice," said Pam Stoutt. The payroll clerk at Star Construction Inc. hatched the idea of adding a flagpole to the entrance of that construction company after learning two more members of their staff were about to head out on a year-long deployment.

"We try to support these type guys. I mean I hate that they have to be deployed because we're losing a good employee during that time but they've got their job back when they get back," said company president Allen Stoutt.

Stoutt noted about 10 percent of the 500 people in his company are military veterans and he said many more employees have family members who have served in the military.

"I think it is very important that we, that live and breathe this freedom every day, thank those people," explained Mr. Stoutt.

Jared Freeman is one of the citizen soldiers with the Tennessee Army National Guard unit headed to Afghanistan. Of the almost 80 pilots and mechanics on that deployment close to 50 have day jobs outside the military. Mr. Freeman has operated heavy equipment for Star Construction, Inc. for close to a half-dozen years. He was surprised by the send-off breakfast and flag pole dedication put on by his employer.

"It was heartfelt, it really is and I appreciate them for it," said Mr. Freeman inside a hanger at the McGhee Tyson Air Base earlier this month just before he said goodbye to his wife and two girls, ages 8 and 18 months.

"Not everybody understands what we're going through and just to see them do that is touching," said Mr. Freeman.


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