GILBERT, Ariz. – Operation Welcome Home honored Lt. Cmdr. Tekoya Calixte for her service to the nation during a citizen ceremony conducted Dec. 12 at Gilbert Town Hall. Calixte completed an eight-month deployment to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.<br /> <br /> Calixte deployed to Southeast Asia as an individual augmentee and worked as a trauma nurse at an intensive care unit in Kandahar, Afghanistan. <br /> <br /> "It was so rewarding to care for our American heroes,” says Calixte. “I feel as though they deserve this honor. Many of them return home without limbs and have sacrificed so much more.” <br /> <br /> Calixte enlisted in the Navy in 1985 and graduated from Recruit Training Command in Orlando, Fla. She has served in Italy, Cuba and Afghanistan.<br /> <br /> “I’m proud to say I am a mustang,” said Calixte.<br /> <br /> In the sea services (Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard), a mustang is an officer who has been promoted from the ranks of a Navy enlisted service member through an in-service procurement program, with no interruption of his or her active duty service. <br /> <br /> John W. Lewis, mayor of Gilbert, presented Calixte with a proclamation declaring Dec. 12, 2013, as “Operation Welcome Home Lt. Cmdr. Tekoya Calixte Day.”<br /> <br /> “This Gilbert hero, like the honored guests before her, are so humbled that they have to be forced to accept this honor,” Lewis said.<br /> <br /> The ceremony included an escort and flag procession from the Patriot Guard Riders.<br /> <br /> Operation Welcome Home formally recognizes service members in the Gilbert community upon their return from active duty or graduation from a military academy. Calixte is the first female to be honored in the history of the 2-year-old program. There have been 13 previous ceremonies. <br /> <br /> Learn more about Navy Public Affairs Support Element West at http://www.navy.mil/local/nrpacensd/ or visit www.navy.mil, www.facebook.com/usnavy or www.twitter.com/usnavy.