News: AWG soldier, wife attend White House dinner
Story by Maj. Sonise Lumbaca
WASHINGTON - One of Fort Meade's own was among 78 service members invited to attend a dinner at the White House hosted Feb. 29 by President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama.
Master Sgt. William Tomlin III, an operational advisor for the Asymmetric Warfare Group at Fort Meade, was selected to represent and attend the dinner, which recognized the significant contributions of all service members who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation New Dawn.
"The whole experience was a lot more than we expected," said Tomlin, who attended the dinner with his wife, Sarah.
The couple had never attended an event of this magnitude.
"The president and Mrs. Obama were great hosts," Sarah Tomlin said.
Dinner guests included service members and their families from across the nation, from all services, and from diverse backgrounds and ranks.
"[The service members in attendance] were chosen specifically to represent our comrades," said Tomlin, a native of Barkhamsted, Conn. "And, I am proud to represent [soldiers from the units I have served with] and other soldiers from Connecticut."
Many of the guests have had multiple deployments to Iraq.
Tomlin served three tours in Iraq while assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division.
He is the recipient of the Silver Star, a medal he was awarded for acts of valor while serving in Afghanistan in 2007. A platoon sergeant at the time serving with the 508th Infantry Battalion, Tomlin was on his fourth tour of duty, and second in Afghanistan.
The Silver Star was presented to him by then-President George Bush at a ceremony on May 22, 2008, at Fort Bragg, N.C.
In addition to the president and first lady, guest speakers and other attendees at the dinner included Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno.
"The president's and Secretary Panetta's speeches highlighted their respect for service members and their families," Tomlin said.
All who spoke during the evening expressed their gratitude, thanking service members and their families for their duty, dedication, sacrifices and service to the nation.
"The highlight of the event was sitting with Gen. Odierno," Tomlin said.
Tomlin and the general talked for a good portion of the evening on subjects that included his past military experience and his current assignment with AWG.
"It was great to be honored and humbling to be in the presence of so many great people," Tomlin said. "Sarah and I are honored to have been invited to the White House. This will serve as a high point in our lives, and a memory that we will share with others."