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NEWS | Jan. 7, 2020

Kentucky Guardsmen set to Deploy

By Staff Sgt. Benjamin Crane, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Kentucky National Guard leadership joined friends and family to say farewell to the 617th Military Police Company during a departure ceremony, at the Lexington Convention Center on Jan. 7.

More than 160 Soldiers will be deploying in support of Operation Spartan Shield supporting the Department of Defense’s operations in the Middle East.

The Richmond-based unit has been deployed twice previously since 2001.

“This is the 3rd time since 9/11 that the 617th have deployed, this is not new for you,” said Col. Joe Gardner, the 149th Brigade Commander during the departure ceremony.

The last deployment was in 2011 to Iraq as part of Operation New Dawn. Prior to that, the unit deployed in 2004-2005 to Kuwait & Iraq, where they participated in the historic battle known as ‘Raven 42’.

“This deployment brings some unknowns,” said Capt. Derek Fosson, company commander of the 617th. “I remain confident in the Soldiers and their ability to accomplish the mission; Each Soldier brings a skill set other than military police to the table. We’ll use these skills to our advantage and that’s one of the reasons we’ll be exceptional.”

The unit has had a few notable Soldiers who have received the military’s highest honors.

One Distinguished Service Cross (the U.S. Army’s second highest honor) and 2 Silver Stars were awarded due to actions taken during this conflict. 1st Sgt. Timothy Nein was the first Guardsman in the nation to ever receive the DSC. Nein will deploy as the senior enlisted leader for the unit.

Sgt. Leigh Ann Hester, who is no longer with the unit and will not be deploying, was the first female U.S. Army Soldier to receive the Silver Star since World War II and the first ever to be cited for valor in close quarters combat.

Confidence was high with the Soldiers and their leaders knowing they were ready and willing to do their part in the defense of the nation.
“As we set forth I know we will overcome obstacles and grow as a team. We are fully prepared for what lies ahead of us,” added Fosson.

The unit now will head to Fort Bliss, Texas, for train up before heading to their area of operation.

“To the families, we have a great support network,” said Gardner. “Please use that backbone we have established through our family programs. God bless you and Godspeed 617th.”

Since Sept. 11, 2001, the Kentucky National Guard has mobilized more than 18,000 Soldiers and Airmen in support of the Global War on Terror.

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