Readiness NCO Doug Balthrop, U.S. Army National Guard

Strong, determined, and hard working. These are just some of the words Ralph Balthrop uses to describe his son, Doug. "I guess you'd say he's level headed. He's got a good head on his shoulders. He thinks things through."

So when Doug thought about joining the Army National Guard at the young age of 17, his father wasn't surprised. "I thought it was a good opportunity for him and I knew it was something, I knew Doug liked the military," says Mr. Balthrop.

What started as a good opportunity for Doug, has turned into a great career. Fifteen years after he joined the National Guard, he's running the 1174th Transportation Company in Newbern and Dresden, a position that Doug's father says his son worked very hard to get. "I'm proud of Doug for what he's accomplished in the Guard. I'm proud of the fact that he was chosen for this position and there were any number of people who would have loved to have the job."

But since September 11, that job has become even more important. In addition to his duties involving homeland defense, there is the possibility of being called to serve overseas. "You know, I know Doug, if they called in the morning and said 'you've got to go,' he'd be ready to go. He's that kind of person." The kind of person who has dedicated his life to fighting for our freedom, and the kind of person Doug Balthrop's family describes as a hero.