Lynchburg-based National Guard soldiers to deploy overseas
LYNCHBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - In just a few short months, the Virginia National Guard’s Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team is headed overseas.
“We’re going to be preparing for our upcoming deployment to the Horn of Africa,” explained Lt. Col. James Tierney, Commander, 1st battalion 116th infantry. “Primarily we are going to be providing a security force to those several installations where the U.S. government and Department of Defense are located and operating out of. Supporting counter terrorism operations, building partner capacity. Just establishing security throughout that region.”
It’s all to become part of Task Force Red Dragon, where around 1,000 soldiers in units from Bedford, Charlottesville, Lexington, Pulaski and Suffolk, and a Kentucky Army National Guard unit from Somerset, Kentucky will join forces.
“This is the largest battalion size element to deploy since World War II,” adds Tierney. “It’s a large task force and that’s just what the requirements call for by the Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa commander. So there are some unique challenges in that in terms of bringing together that team.”
That training will take place in the coming weeks at Fort Pickett, and will continue in Texas before deployment in the fall.
Some are looking forward to the mission.
“I’m pretty excited for it,” noted David Lavigne of the Va. Army National Guard. “I’ve never actually left the states. I’ve never gone outside the states for anything. So getting the chance to actually go overseas and kinda do my job in a way, I think that it’s a very great experience.”
Others are thinking about who they’ll leave behind.
“I have a son and he’s five. So, like trying to get him to understand what is happening. It’s hard to explain to a five-year-old exactly what’s going on,” explained soldier Joshan Barry
But to these heroes, the credit belongs at home.
“For us as soldiers, it’s really easy. We get picked up and put into a situation where we are learning new things and we’ve got to figure them out together. We’ve got someone on our left and our right to rely on to help us work through some of those problems. Families, though, they’re the ones who have to pick up all those tasks and responsibilities that our soldiers were primarily responsible for. Without our families’ support, we can’t do our missions,” said Tierney.
Boots on the ground today make big strides toward tomorrow
“He had mentioned a couple times that when he gets older, he wants to join the military like mommy,” Barry said. “So I think he’s definitely proud. Especially when he gets to see me in uniform, which he doesn’t get to see very often. But I think he’s very proud.”
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