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Michael Brandy, Deseret News
Paula and Robert Lehmiller look at a painting of their late son, Michael, who was killed while serving in Afghanistan in 2005 at age 23.

The Utah National Guard hosted its 47th annual Minuteman awards dinner on Wednesday evening at the Little America Hotel.

Bronze Minuteman awards went to Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr., Father Michael A. Kouremetis, Robert L. Stayner, Chief Warrant Officer Layne S. Pace, Kaziah Hancock, Master Sgt. Sterling Poulson, Hesther Rippy and Kevin D. Head. The recipients were honored for their service to Utahns and for their leadership.

Maj. Gen. Brian Tarbet, adjutant general, and former senator Jake Garn, Honorary Colonels Corps commander and a retired brigadier general, presented the awards.

Huntsman was honored for his support of the National Guard as chief commander, especially in visiting Utah troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. He was unable to attend the event; however, he was present through a satellite feed. He accepted the award on behalf of service members' families.

"Thank you for the service you give," Huntsman said.

Father Kouremetis, a prominent member of the Greek Orthodox Church, was recognized for his spiritual leadership and guidance.

"We don't need to be honored to serve," he said, but said he felt honored and humbled.

Stayner, a local CPA, was awarded for his service to the mentally retarded and physically handicapped and other community charities as well as military service.

Pace was honored for his military service and humanitarian efforts for two orphanages and two remote villages in Afghanistan and other services to the Afghani people.

Hancock, an artist from Manti, was honored for painting portraits of slain service members and then donating the art to their families. She has painted almost 500 portraits of fallen soldiers, sailors and airmen.

Poulson is a meteorologist for Channel 2 news in Salt Lake City. He was recognized for his years of service to the military and his meteorological service both to the community and the military. "It's a humbling feeling," Poulson said

Literacy specialist Hesther Rippy was honored for her volunteer service promoting literacy. She is the overseer of a literacy center in Lehi where she spends 40 hours a week.

Head is is the president and CEO of Mesa Systems, an agent of Allied Van Lines. He was recognized for his organization Feed Uncle Sam, which supports troops deployed from the Utah National Guard. Feed Uncle Sam sent 720 care packages to Utah National Guard troops overseas last Christmas.

During the ceremony, Hancock presented a portrait of Sgt. Michael R. Lehmiller, killed in Afghanistan in 2005, to his parents, Robert and Paula. "It is an honor to have a painting by Kaziah," Paula Lehmiller said.


E-mail: lwilde@desnews.com