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Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
Command Sgt. Major Brian Kiess, second from right and surrounded by family, receives a Blue Star Banner for his service while deployed with the U.S. Army Reserve.

City honors returning serviceman

1st Blue Star Banner recipient presented with flag by mayor

– There are always phone calls at night, or maybe an email or two, if there’s time in the wake of 18-hour work days.

But those calls and emails are nothing compared with the real thing. There is no place like home, and the feeling Command Sgt. Major Brian Kiess had when he stepped off a plane and into the arms of his wife and children late last month cannot be replicated.

What also awaited him after his four-month stint in the Dominican Republic serving in the U.S. Army Reserves, though, was a little bonus.

Mayor Tom Henry presented Kiess with a Blue Star Banner that had been hung in his honor near Swinney Park.

Henry’s administration started the Blue Star Banner program in May, hanging banners throughout the city to honor residents serving overseas.

Kiess’ banner was the first hung. When a service member returns home, the banner is taken down and presented to the person.

“When servicemen are deployed, support means a lot,” Kiess said at the ceremony Wednesday.

“The city of Fort Wayne, through this initiative, shows it supports servicemen,” Kiess continued.

Kiess, who works for the city, has served in Operation Desert Storm, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom.

In the Dominican Republic, he helped build clinics and schools, he said. Meanwhile, his wife, Gina, took care of his four daughters, the bills and the house.

“Without her love and support, I wouldn’t be able to concentrate on the mission,” he said.

There are 14 Blue Star Banners on display throughout the city, officials said.

Family and friends of deployed military personnel are encouraged to complete an application for a banner at

People or companies interested in making a donation to the program can contact Karen Richards at 427-2146 or email her at