Operation Welcome Home! Thursday, Feb. 23, 5:30 pm.

The Gilbert firefighter who nominated the Town for the Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award, known as the prestigious “Freedom Award,” will be honored on February 23 as he returns home from a deployment to Afghanistan.

Army Sgt. First Class Leo Hess recently returned home from his third deployment. He has also been deployed to Iraq in 2003 and 2008-09. Sgt. Hess joined the Army reserves in 1995 and has received numerous medals and recognitions, including the Iraq Campaign Medal with Two Campaign Stars, Bronze Star, Army Commendation Medal (2nd award), Joint Service Achievement Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with Two Campaign Stars, Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, and the Global War on Terrorism NATO Medal.

Sgt. Hess is also well known in Gilbert for nominating the community for the Freedom Award, the most distinguished honor that can be granted to employers who support employees serving in the Guard and Reserves. Learn more about the award at www.gilbertaz.gov/patriotism.

Sgt. Hess is a five year veteran with the Gilbert Fire Department, and has been married to his wife Tamara since 2002. Sgt. Hess serves as a senior analyst in the Army reserves.

The event begins at 5:30 p.m. at Town Hall, 50 E. Civic Center Drive, Gilbert. It will be televised on Channel 11 and streaming online at Gilbert Live on www.gilbertaz.gov.

About Operation Welcome Home: Operation Welcome Home are events that allow the Town of Gilbert to demonstrate a true appreciation and provide a hero’s welcome to our veterans and their families. The Town invites residents to join us to recognize the valuable service and dedication military men and women provide our country. Under the program, the Council honors these individuals with a Proclamation presented at a formal council meeting in appreciation of their commitment to our nation. The celebration for each returning serviceperson is a grand event. With the support of veterans’ organizations, service groups, employers, community leaders and mentors, the young men and women are reintroduced to our community and are thanked for their effort and sacrifice.

Learn more or fill out a nomination application at www.gilbertaz.gov/operationwelcomehome.