May 20, 2007

More than 100 Roanoke Guardsmen begin yearlong mobilization to Iraq

By Sgt. Jesse Houk
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

A soldier from E Co., 429th Brigade Support Battalion from Roanoke, Va., gives one last hug to his family before his departure. The company will participate in a 13-month activation in support of “Operation Iraqi Freedom.” (Photo by Sgt. Jesse L. Houk, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

ROANOKE, Va. – It was roughly 1 p.m. on May 14 when Company E, 429 th Brigade Support Battalion fell into two platoons on the gymnasium court at the National Guard Armory in Roanoke, Va.

The 108 men and women that make up Company E stood motionless at parade rest waiting for the ceremony to begin.

Families and friends sat and stood in anticipation of the ceremony that was about to take place. They formed a U-shaped formation around the Soldiers, cradling them in an almost inadvertent symbol representing their love for the Guardsmen.

This was the mobilization ceremony of Company E of the 429th Brigade Support Battalion. They were being called up for federal active duty in support of “Operation Iraqi Freedom.”

These Soldiers would be spending the next 13 months of their lives answering the call to duty. Some Soldiers look toward the deployment with mixed emotions, but the goal to make it back safely was shared by all.

“I’m excited to go and serve the country,” said Staff Sgt. Daniel S. Patterson, a team leader. “I’m kind of nervous and upset to leave my family of course. I just want to get over there and then get home safe; get back to the family.”

Ben Nobles and Jim Borling (L-R) represent the Patriot Guard Riders and express support during the mobilization ceremony of E Co., 429th Brigade Support Battalion from Roanoke, Va. The Patriot Guard Riders was created in 2005 from American Legion Riders chapter 136 from Kansas. (Photo by Sgt. Jesse L. Houk, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)


Maj. Gen. Robert B. Newman Jr., The Adjutant General of Virginia, addressed the crowd as he offered encouragement and confidence in the Guardsmen.

“These Soldiers are the best trained we’ve ever had,” said Newman. “They have the best resources. They the best trained trainers to make this happen. So I’m confident when they get down range and get into Iraq that they’ll be ready to go. And I’m sure with the spirit they have that they’ll be a formidable force.”

The mobilization ceremony also caught the attention of members of the Patriot Guard Rider organization. The small convoy of motorcycles proudly displaying the American flag was yet another sign of support for the Guardsmen.

“Whatever they are experiencing overseas to remember that there is a foundation and a home here,” said Jim Borling, Patriot Guard Rider member. “And for many that is a very strong family, for others that might be a church base; for others it’s just buddies or patriots like us.

“But there is a strong foundation at home that thinks about them everyday. Everyday we think about them and pray for them. So they are not alone even when they do feel like that maybe the case.”

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