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New initiative honors Gold Star families, Purple Heart recipients

New signs have been posted on base to reserve parking spots for Combat Wounded Veterans and Gold Star Families. The reserved-parking signs were put up at the Commissary, Exchange, Offutt Field House and the Patriot Club. (U.S. Air Force photo by Zachary Hada)

New signs have been posted on base to reserve parking spots for Combat Wounded Veterans and Gold Star Families. The reserved-parking signs were put up at the Commissary, Exchange, Offutt Field House and the Patriot Club. (U.S. Air Force photo by Zachary Hada)

New signs have been posted to reserve parking for Combat Wounded Veterans and Gold Star Families. The reserved-parking signs were put up at the Commissary, Exchange, Offutt Field House and the Patriot Club. (U.S. Air Force photo by Zachary Hada)

New signs have been posted to reserve parking for Combat Wounded Veterans and Gold Star Families. The reserved-parking signs were put up at the Commissary, Exchange, Offutt Field House and the Patriot Club. (U.S. Air Force photo by Zachary Hada)

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- Thanks to a new initiative, Team Offutt will subtly honor a special group of people who have given so much to our nation.

The 55th Civil Engineering Squadron recently added designated parking spots for Gold Star families and Purple Heart recipients around the installation.

“I can’t think of a more deserving group of people who have without question earned DV status for their sacrifices and contributions,” said U.S. Air Force Col. Marty Reynolds, 55th Wing commander. “This was a suggestion I received from a Gold Star family and it’s something being done at military installations across the country. We’re absolutely honored to do it here now.”

A gold star is a tradition that dates back to World War I. Initially, a service flag with a blue star would hang in a home of a family who had someone serving their country. A gold star would then be placed over the blue star if the service member was killed in combat.

Purple Heart recipients are those who were wounded by an instrument of war in the hands of the enemy. It is specifically a combat decoration and posthumously given to the next of kin in the name of those who are killed in action or die of wounds received in action.

“These parking spots serve as a reminder to everyone the sacrifices these individuals and families have given for our country,” said U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Michael Morris, 55th WG command chief. “It is something we should never take for granted.”

The new parking spots are located at the Commissary, Exchange, Offutt Field House and Patriot Club.