WASHINGTON, D.C. (6/26/2013) – In a ceremony at the Danish embassy here, three Soldiers assigned to the National Guard Bureau – including a Canadian Army officer assigned to the NGB as part of an exchange program – were recently awarded the Danish Home Guard Meritorious Service Medal.
They were honored for their work in solidifying training and operational opportunities and relationships between the Danish Home Guard and the reserve components of the U.S.
The ceremony also marked the first time the award had been bestowed on both American and Canadian Soldiers, said Danish Home Guard Maj. Gen. Finn Winkler, chief of the Home Guard.
And, in part because of that aspect, the award brought on an added significance.
“This experience was very humbling,” said Army Col. Edward Gaylord, deputy director for international training programs, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs, who received the award. “By the mere fact that it is only awarded once a year and that we are the only U.S. and Canadian officers to receive this award is very humbling.”
But, said Gaylord, the award represented something larger.
“It’s one of my proudest accomplishments in my military career,” said Gaylord. “But not only for me, but what it means for the future in the reserve components in enabling our (service members) and to build partnership capacity. That’s what it’s really about.”
Those awarded the medal received it for their work in solidifying a memorandum of understanding for Danish Home Guard participation and exchanges with U.S. reserve components.
“We signed a memorandum of understanding for the Military Reserve Exchange Program, which now enables the Danish Home Guard and the Danish reserve officers, NCOs (noncommissioned officers) and soldiers to exchange with our U.S. reserve components, and that includes all (U.S. services). All of our reserve components are included in that,” Gaylord said.
Additionally, through the agreement, Danish Home Guard soldiers have also partnered with National Guard Agri-business Development Teams in Afghanistan. A team from the Home Guard will be working in Helmand Province with an ADT from the Nebraska National Guard.
“They will be working with the Nebraska (National Guard) ADT, at the provincial level to build greater capacity with the director of agriculture and his staff,” said Army Lt. Col. Howard Schauer, ADT development coordinator at the NGB and who also received the Danish award.
The work done by those who received the award also represents a larger change within the Danish Home Guard, said Winkler.
“For me, it’s also another sign of my organization changing from purely a national perspective into more of an international task,” he said.
The agreement also works to build a greater working relationship between the Danish and U.S. militaries.
“It builds not only partnership capacity, but also enables us for future operations,” said Gaylord. “When they are multi-national operations we are already familiar with each other and we can much more rapidly build combat power and take on the actions that we need to in any type of scenario.”
And Winkler, the Home Guard chief, agreed.
“During international work together in causes, exercises and programs will enhance the (Danish Home) Guard organization, even though we are a small organization compared to the Guard and reserve organizations in the U.S.,” he said.
But, the purpose of the award was to simply say thank you.
“The most precious thing you can do is say thank you to people,” said Winkler.