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PA Air Guard member honored at NHL game

A photo of an arena with a man saluting in uniform on the jumbotron.

Air National Guard Maj. Michael Gielbeda, a cyber operations officer with the 111th Operations Support Squadron at Biddle Air National Guard Base in Horsham, Pennsylvania, salutes while being honored by the New Jersey Devils at their home arena in Newark, New Jersey, May 3, 2021. Gielbeda, a New York City native who enlisted in the Air National Guard shortly after the attacks on September 11th, 2001, was recognized as the Hero of The Game. (Courtesy photo provided by Maj. Michael Geilbeda)

A man in a military uniform stands next to a young woman, the New Jersey Devils' mascot and his wife while holding a hockey jersey.

Pennsylvania Air National Guard Maj. Michael Gielbeda, a cyber operations officer with the 111th Operation Support Squadron at Biddle Air National Guard Base in Horsham, Pennsylvania, poses with his his family and the New Jersey Devil's mascot holding a custom hockey jersey at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey, May, 3, 2021. Gielbeda, who has four combined deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, was recognized as the Hero of The Game by the Devils during their home game against the Boston Bruins. (Courtesy photo provided by Maj. Michael Geilbeda)

BIDDLE AIR NATIONAL GUARD, Pa. --

A member of the 111th Operations Support Squadron here was recognized for both his military and community service by his favorite hockey team recently.

Maj. Michael Gielbeda, a cyber operations officer with the 111th OSS at Biddle Air National Guard Base in Horsham, Pennsylvania, was recognized as the Hero of The Game by the New Jersey Devils at their home arena in Newark, New Jersey, May 3, 2021.

In addition to being featured on the arena’s jumbotron, Gielbeda and his family were also presented a custom hockey jersey featuring his name on the back.

Gielbeda said he doesn’t consider himself a hero; instead he’s just humble to serve.

"I joined the Air National Guard after September 11th, 2001,” Gielbeda said. “I’m happy to give back to my local community, where I was born and raised while serving this country that I love.”

Throughout his time in the military, Gielbeda has served in everything from domestic relief missions to overseas deployments.

“One of the many benefits of our mission in the Air National Guard is that get to serve locally and overseas,” said Gielbeda, who has four deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan combined. “For example, I was mobilized for hurricane relief efforts and most recently activated to support Covid-19 operations.”

Gielbeda said his service during the most recent pandemic helped him appreciate just how fortunate he and his family were to be able to attend such an event regardless of its outcome.

“My family and I were honored to be recognized by the New Jersey Devils during today's game, said Gielbeda. “Unfortunately, the Devils lost 3-0 to the Boston Bruins, but we still had an amazing time."