CHALMETTE, LA (WAFB) - Friends and family bid farewell to Louisiana National Guard (LANG) soldiers Saturday as they prepare for a 9-month deployment in Iraq.
The farewell ceremony was for the 139th Regional Support Group and was held at the Frederick J. Sigur Center in Chalmette on Saturday, November 4. Around 80 soldiers will deploy to Iraq for nine months to provide security, logistics, and garrison command support at Al Asad Airbase and Taji Military Complex in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
"The soldiers of the 139th are technically, physically, and mentally well prepared for our mission. We have completed all required pre-mobilization training and look forward to the post mobilization training we will conduct at Fort Hood that is critical to a successful deployment," said Col. Stuart Burress, a resident of Carville and commander of the 139th.
"It is my honor to be here on this bittersweet day. It's bitter because we are about to send some of our loved ones overseas for a while, but it's sweet because they are among the best of the best and I have the privilege of serving with them every day" said Maj. Gen. Glenn H. Curtis, adjutant general of the LANG. "I want you [the families] to know how much I appreciate the fact that you are willing to let these men and women serve our nation and our state in uniform… it's tougher being a family member at home than it is deploying."
Burress asked that family members stay in touch with their loved ones going overseas and that since many of these soldiers are going overseas for the first time, staying in contact with family will help ease their anxieties.
"It's kind of a rush. We were told that we were going just a few months ago, so it's pretty exciting," said 2nd Lt. Christine Winward, a resident of Baton Rouge and student at LSU. "The most challenging part is going to be being away from my family. My husband and I just got married a month and a half ago."
The 139th was established in 2006 and has been crucial to mission success in stateside emergency responses. The 139th has been tasked with distributing commodities to ensure residents have what they need during natural disasters. The unit was activated during numerous hurricanes, including Ike, Gustav, Harvey, and Maria, and during the major flooding events in the Baton Rouge area in March and August of 2016.