FORT HOOD, TEXAS – Nearly 100 Army Reserve Soldiers said their good-byes, shook hands with senior leaders and stepped off of American soil here Feb. 25, boarding an airplane bound for Southwest Asia and officially beginning the first leg of their 12-month deployment in support of the ongoing War on Terrorism.
The group of warriors are from the 300th Chemical Company, 485th Chemical Battalion, 415th Chemical Brigade, 76th Division (Operational Response) based out of Morgantown, West Virginia. Over the course of the last year, and for the past few months here they have been diligently preparing for this deployment.
“These Soldiers have done a ton of training over the course of this past year including two mounted gunnery exercises, individual weapons training and qualifications and a variety of classes and hands-on training to build and hone their skills,” said Army Reserve Maj. Louise Serpico, executive officer, 485th Chem. Bn., 415th Chem. Brig. “Also, our Stryker team has been working really well together and are well trained on conducting mounted Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear (CBRN) reconnaissance missions. I’m incredibly confident in these Soldiers ability to go forward and accomplish any mission in front of them.”
This particular company in the only one in the battalion to have been issued the new Dismounted Reconnaissance Sets, Kits and Outfits (DRSKO), which are a set of mission specific kits that characterize and provide full-spectrum CBRN dismounted reconnaissance capabilities. The Soldiers not only fielded the new systems, but have conducted extensive hands-on training with them as well.
“I think we are well prepared for this deployment,” said Army Reserve Staff Sgt. Joshua Land, a native of Spartanburg, South Carolina, and a squad leader assigned to the 300th Chem. Co., 485th Chem. Bn., who is now embarking on his third deployment. “We’ve done a lot of training leading up to this such as countering Improvised Explosive Devices, mounted and dismounted gunnery exercises, and a host of various classes to help us prepare for anything. We are ready.”
Before the group boarded the plane, Maj. Gen. A.C. Roper, commanding general, 76th Div. (OR) took a few minutes to thank the Soldiers for answering the Nation’s call. “My command team and I wanted to take some time today to thank you for what you’ve done for the Army, and for what you are going to do for the Army,” he said. “To be successful it’s going to take teamwork. We are not an Army of one. Take care of each other so you can take care of the mission and get over there and back here safely. Every team member is counting on you.”
He also took the opportunity to tell the troops that they are part of something special. “You are a member of the finest fighting force this world has ever seen.” said Roper. “This is the most lethal, the most capable and the most ready Army the world has ever seen, and you are a part of that Army.”
Among those listening to Roper’s words was Army Reserve Spc. Andrew Johnson, a native of Morgantown, West Virginia and a CBRN specialist assigned to the 300th Chem. Co., 485th Chem. Bn. This will be his first deployment. “I’m mostly just excited about getting over there and seeing what being deployed is all about,” he said. “But I’m also looking forward to the opportunity to train with members of foreign militaries and make new friends.”
Roper concluded his visit with a few words of encouragement. “Enjoy the moment,” he said. “You will see things and go places most of your peers will never get to see or go. You’ve got to be committed to this to make it work though. There are going to be long days ahead, but you are ready.”
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