FRANKFORT, Ky –
A small contingent of Soldiers said goodbye to their families prior to heading out for their deployment to the Horn of Africa after their ceremony held at the Army Aviation Support Facility Hanger on Boone National Guard Center Nov. 16.
Four Soldiers with Detachment 4, Charlie Company, 2/245th Aviation Regiment, 63rd Theater Aviation Battalion will be charged with flying C-12 King Air fixed wing aircraft in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. During their deployment they will be providing air movement support throughout the Africa Command’s (AFRICOM) area of responsibility.
“Our aviators make up one of the finest units in our organization, hands down the most professional, strongest organization, group of Soldiers that I think we have in the Brigade,” said Army Lt. Col. Stephen Martin, commander, 751st Troop Command. “I know from that experience that you all are Soldiers of the highest caliber.”
The Soldiers were also encouraged by the brigade’s commander to stay focused on the mission and he promised that their families would be taken care of back home.
“I really appreciate your sacrifice that you're about to set forth. You're the ones that are really going to be doing the hard heavy work,” said Army Col. Michael Armstrong, commander of the 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade, as he spoke to the families. “We know you will be doing the heavy lifting here at home with your families. I really want to send out a heartfelt appreciation for what you do to support your Soldiers. Know that while they're gone, you will be supported from the unit back here if there's anything you ever need at any time while they are away.”
For most of the Soldiers leaving, this won’t be their first time. But for one of them, this first deployment will include leaving his new bride to embark on this new challenge.
“This will be my first time leaving the country so I’m excited to have that experience,” said Sgt. Joshua Eisenback, an aviation operations specialist with the 2/245th. “The downside is obviously going to be leaving my family since I was just married last week. I think that will be a little tough on me, but I know it is going to be even tougher oh her.”
Leaving families and loved ones isn’t the only challenge facing them as they step off and begin their training for the deployment.
“The mission is about 270 days on the ground, typically, it's 10 to 11 months from front to back before we get rotated out,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Kevin Keith, commander of the 2/245th. “Some of the biggest challenges as aviators that we'll probably run into over there is the weather,” “It's hard to get good predicted weather forecasts over there, even with Air Force’s help with their weather technologies. Also, we need to avoid getting ‘mission creep’ and try to stay focused, while still thinking about thing back home.”
After the ceremony the Soldiers got to spend a little time with their loved ones and were given well wishes from other Soldiers who had come to see them off.
The small contingent of Soldiers will now be heading to Fort Bliss, Tx., for their final train-up period before heading to the dark continent.
The 2/245th is the only fixed wing unit in the Commonwealth of Kentucky and they service Air and Army National Guard long range cargo missions across the United States and overseas.
The unit gets deployed overseas about once every three years according to leadership.