NEWS RELEASE January 2010
PA Air Guard Master Sgt. William Meiser of Lebanon Receives PA VFW’s Eagle Award for Service in War on Terror
During the recent Pennsylvania Department of Veterans of Foreign Wars’ Mid-Winter Conference, more than 700 VFW leaders and members honored PA Air National Guard (PAANG) Master Sergeant William T. Meiser, who was given a PA VFW Eagle Award and Certificate for his outstanding service on deployments in the War on Terror. The Department presents this award to recognize significant contributions of Pennsylvania Guard troops in the War on Terror and in other operations.
Meiser, who serves with the Air Guard’s 201st RED HORSE Squadron (Rapid Engineer Deployable Heavy Operations Repair Squadron Engineer) based at Ft. Indiantown Gap, has deployed three times with his PAANG unit to support the War on Terror—once to Iraq and twice to Afghanistan. He was joined on stage at the conference by Pennsylvania Acting Adjutant General Stephen Sischo along with leadership from his Guard unit.
“The Pennsylvania VFW created this award to recognize and salute the valuable contributions that citizen soldiers and air personnel play in the defense of our nation,” said VFW State Commander Ben Mastridge, a Vietnam Veteran. “Like the actions of thousands of other PA Guard personnel, Master Sergeant Meiser’s outstanding service during the War on Terror has helped America and its allies to successfully take the war to where terrorists live and train. We are proud to pay tribute to this patriot and to recognize the distinguished service of all PA Guard personnel.”
Mastridge also commended Meiser for his support of the VFW, which includes serving on the Post Honor Guard team that performs at veterans funeral services and as the junior vice commander of Lebanon Post 23. Meiser joins many other young veterans serving as leaders at their VFW posts to help the organization transition into the future.
“Comrades, I am pleased, honored and very appreciative of receiving this award. I thank you all for your service overseas, which helped to keep our nation and many others in the world free today,” Meiser stated.
“I learned very quickly after first coming back from war in 2002 that the VFW accepted me as one of its own, and I thank you all for that. Veterans from previous service eras accepted me as a new combat veteran from the War on Terror. I am grateful that they reached out their hands to welcome me back from deployment and into the post. They expressed that they needed me and other younger veterans to be active members to keep their outstanding tradition of service going in the future, and I am glad to join their ranks to play a role in keeping the VFW strong.
Meiser is a 1990 graduate of Lebanon High School and the Lebanon County Career and Technology Center. He received his associate degree in Applied Science from the Community College of the Air Force in July 2008. He is currently pursuing his bachelor's degree in Business Administration from TUI University. Additionally, in January 2009, Meiser was named as a Pennsylvania Registered School Business Official (PRSBO), awarded by the State Association of School Business Officials.
Meiser began his military career in 1989, when he enlisted as a Private in the US Army Reserve. In December 2001, he transferred branches of service from the Army to the Air Force, and joined the 201st RED HORSE Squadron. He is a member of the Heating & Air Conditioning shop and progressed quickly up to the position of shop supervisor.
In 2002, the 201st was the first National Guard RED HORSE Squadron activated for the War on Terror. Meiser was a member of the first RED HORSE Civil Engineering Squadron to operate in difficult conditions of Afghanistan. He deployed with his unit two additional times in support of the Global War on Terrorism, in 2005 to Taji Iraq, and most recently 2009 through 2010 he returned to Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan.
Master Sergeant Meiser’s military decorations and honors include the Air Force and Army Commendation Medals, Air Force and Army Achievement Medals, a Meritorious Unit Award, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award with Valor and 2 devices, National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with 2 devices, Iraq Campaign Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, numerous other federal awards as well as state medals.
Upon his return from Iraq, Meiser sought to correct inequalities in the National Guard Educational Assistance Program that pays college tuition for Guard troops. Working with his local state legislators, he sought equal benefits for full- and part-time college students utilizing the program. PA House Bill 2437, amended Title 51, Military Affairs to create equality for members of the Guard, Bill 2437 passed both the State House and Senate before gaining the signature of Governor Edward Rendell.
In his civilian career, Meiser has been employed by the Lebanon & Derry Township School District as an HVAC technician for 12 years. He joined the Middletown Area School District team in June 2007, and is the Director of Operations where he oversees 43 employees.
Consisting of 108,000 members in 510 local posts, Pennsylvania is the largest state department of the VFW. Many VFW posts have adopted Pennsylvania National Guard’s Army and Air components to provide troops and their families with support before, during and after deployments.
The VFW has numerous special programs designed to help military families endure the hardships of deployments including Operation Uplink, which allows troops overseas to call home for free twice a month. The VFW Unmet Needs initiative provides emergency grants for military families facing financial difficulties, while the Adopt-a-Unit program encourages VFW posts to take local military units under their wing to help troops transition into and out of deployments.
For more information on the VFW’s troop support and other programs contact VFW State Director of Communications David Sandman at (717) 234-7927 or firstname.lastname@example.org.