Lo­cal sol­diers head­ing to war

Na­tional Guard’s Apache Troop gets send­off ahead of train­ing, then de­ploy­ment to Afghanistan

The Standard Journal - - FRONT PAGE - By Kevin Myrick [email protected]­stan­dard­jour­nal.net

Ci­ti­zen sol­diers donned their uni­forms and marched onto the stage of the Cedar­town Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter for a cer­e­mony to wish them a safe de­ploy­ment as they pre­pare to head over­seas in 2019.

Harm’s way will be found in Afghanistan as Ge­or­gia Na­tional Guard mem­bers pre­pare for a third trip to the war-torn coun­try in 12 years.

Apache Troop of the 1-108th Cav­alry, a unit of the 48th Reg­i­ment in the Ge­or­gia Army Na­tional Guard gath­ered on Mon­day, Nov. 26 as they went off for one last train­ing de­ploy­ment to last un­til Dec. 21 be­fore they are sent off to a com­bat tour over­seas.

Fam­ily and friends joined in the cer­e­mony that in­cluded ad­dresses from State Rep. Trey Kel­ley (R-16th Dis­trict,) The Rev. Ed Dick­ens, a re­tired Lieu­tenant Colonel and now pas­tor of Anna Kresge United Methodist Church, and re­tired Com­mand Master Sergeant Paul Redgate.

Kel­ley said he wished the troops a safe jour­ney to war and back and thanked them for their ser­vice and the great honor he feels hav­ing the chance to just be with Al­pha Troop be­fore their de­ploy­ment.

“Our na­tion is one founded on grand ideals,” Kel­ley said. “We’re a na­tion that’s founded on life, lib­erty and the pur­suit of hap­pi­ness, on the prin­ci­pal of all men are cre­ated equal… those were ground­break­ing words, words that changed the course of his­tory. But if it had not been for sol­diers who had taken up the fight to gain us our free­dom, those words would be worth noth­ing more on pa­per than the one I hold here.”

He re­minded Troop­ers that much like those cho­sen to serve with Gideon in the story from the Old Tes­ta­ment book of Judges, they too were called upon by God to de­fend the United States.

“What­ever has hap­pened in your life, what­ever choices you made that brought you here, God has cho­sen each and ev­ery one of you to serve his pur­pose,” Kel­ley said.

Lt. Col. Ed Dick­ens (Re­tired) also spoke, and though he said he’s usu­ally the preacher among the group as the pas­tor of Anna Kresge United Methodist Church, he in­stead brought with him words of ad­vice about what he learned from his own ser­vice.

He called upon the young troop­ers of the 108th to re­mem­ber to lis­ten to the non-com­mis­sioned of­fi­cers and lead­ers in the field, as they have built up years of ex­pe­ri­ence gained through a re­build­ing of the Army. He said that process be­gan from when his ser­vice started in the late 1970s, to when it ended as the head of the ROTC pro­gram at North Ge­or­gia Univer­sity af­ter the Gulf War and into the early 2000s.

He also called on the com­mu­nity and loved ones to act as a sup­port sys­tem for the troop­ers head­ing into the field.

“I know well, my wife re­minds me of­ten how many times I left her and how many times I left them (my chil­dren),” he said. “It’s im­por­tant to sup­port the ones you loved while on de­ploy­ment.”

Redgate, a Korean and Viet­nam War vet­eran and re­tired Com­mand Master Sergeant, spoke of his ex­pe­ri­ences in war. He told the Cav­alry unit gath­ered they were go­ing into com­bat hav­ing some of the best equip­ment avail­able in the world, which wasn’t al­ways the case.

He re­called go­ing to war in late 1950 into Seoul with World War II equip­ment and not know­ing whether he and his fel­low sol­diers would sur­vive.

Redgate asked for all to re­mem­ber Apache Troop in their prayers as they got ready for their de­ploy­ment in 2019.

The cer­e­mony was orig­i­nally planned to be held at the Na­tional Guard Ar­mory on High­way 27 south, but was moved to the Cedar­town Per­form­ing Arts Cen­ter to al­low for more peo­ple to par­tic­i­pate.

Collee­toe Sanders pro­vided ren­di­tions of The Na­tional An­them and “God Bless Amer­ica” dur­ing the cer­e­monies as well, lead­ing the au­di­ence in the lat­ter song.

McKenna promised that no mat­ter what, they would bring ev­ery mem­ber of Apache Troop back home from their de­ploy­ment.

Cedar­town City Man­ager Bill Fann wrapped up his clos­ing re­marks with a com­mand to Apache Troop’s Com­man­der, Capt. Brian McKenna: “Take them to war.”

War is where they’ll end up. Apache Troop’s move over­seas is part of a larger de­ploy­ment of the 48th In­fantry Bri­gade Com­bat Team to Afghanistan, their third over­seas de­ploy­ment to cen­tral Asia. They pre­vi­ously were de­ployed in 2009-10, and 2005-06.

Apache Troop’s ros­ter of more than 80 men and women are part of a force of nearly 2,000 from the Ge­or­gia Army Na­tional Guard, with other ar­mories based out of Cal­houn, Can­ton and Dal­ton.

The mis­sion ac­cord­ing to pre­vi­ous re­port­ing in the Rome News-Tri­bune is se­cu­rity-fo­cused.

“We’re go­ing to be charged with keep­ing cer­tain peo­ple safe,” Ma­jor Will Parker said in a Septem­ber story. He also stated at the time the unit may par­tic­i­pate in other undis­closed mis­sions dur­ing the de­ploy­ment.

/ Kevin Myrick

Apache Troop of the 108th Cav­alry in the Ge­or­gia Na­tional Guard stood at at­ten­tion and ready for a com­mand dur­ing a send­off cer­e­mony held on Nov. 26.

/ Kevin Myrick

Mem­bers of the 108th Cav­alry Apache Troop sta­tioned out of the Ge­or­gia Na­tional Guard Ar­mory in Cedar­town lis­ten to State Rep. Trey Kel­ley ad­dress the com­pany and their fam­ily and friends dur­ing a Nov. 26 send­off cer­e­mony.

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