Air Force Staff Sgt. Shawn M. Hodge has deployed to Balad, Iraq, to serve in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The servicemember is regularly assigned to the 20th Equiptment Maintenance Squadron, at Shaw Air Force Base, Sumter, S.C.

Operation Iraqi Freedom is the official name given to military operations involving members of the U.S. armed forces and coalition forces participating in efforts to free and secure Iraq. Mission objectives focus on force protection, peacekeeping, stabilization, security and counter-insurgency operations as the Iraqi transitional governing bodies assume full sovereign powers to govern the peoples of Iraq.

Members from all branches of the U.S. military and multinational forces are also assisting in rebuilding Iraq's economic and governmental infrastructure, and training and preparing Iraqi military and security forces to assume full authority and responsibility in defending and preserving Iraq's sovereignty and independence as a democracy.

Hodge is munitions storage crew chief has served in the military for four years.

He is the son of Michael and Colleen Hodge of N. Greenwood St., Tamaqua.

The sergeant is a 2001 graduate of Tamaqua Area High School.