March 11, 2010

Lynchburg Soldiers complete final task, ready for deployment to Iraq

By Capt. Matt Nowak
Virginia Army Guard Public Affairs

CAMP SHELBY, Miss. — Soldiers from the Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team were declared ready for combat operations during the “Tiger Day” festivities held March 5 at Camp Shelby, Miss. The battalion will deploy to Iraq with the Louisiana National Guard’s 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team for a yearlong security force mission.

 

Lt. Col. Scott Smith (right) and Command Sgt. Maj. John Braziel (center) lead a formation of 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team Soldiers during a pass and review as part of the 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team's "Tiger Day" ceremony. The battalion will deploy to Iraq with the Louisiana National Guard¹s 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team for a yearlong security force mission. (Photo by Capt. Matt Nowak, Virginia Army National Guard Public Affairs)

Please visit the Virginia Guard Flickr page for more photos

“Tiger Day” included a casing ceremony to signify the units’ readiness to shift into conducting combat operations in Iraq. The battalion will join the Louisiana National Guard’s 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, which will deploy to Iraq for a yearlong security force mission.

"The 1st Battalion was called on late to mobilize with the 256th Brigade. Through their leadership, hard work and determination of all of the soldiers and families, they were able to get fully prepared for the mission ahead," said Assistant Adjutant General for the Army, Brig. Gen. Stephen Huxtable, who made the trip to Mississippi with State Command Sgt. Maj. Carl Holcomb.

“The 256th had almost a year to train for this deployment. We were alerted only a couple months before we reported to Camp Shelby,” said Lt. Col. Scott Smith, commander of the 1-116th. “However, we caught up to the required training and were able to meet all the pre-deployment standards. This shows the high quality of our Soldiers and the state of readiness they were in prior to the mobilization.”

Smith's troops were notified later than the rest of the brigade and praised by the 256th’s leadership for their hard work.

During the ceremony, Maj. Gen. J. Michael Bednarek, the commander of First Army Division East, declared the entire brigade ready for combat operations.

Since Louisiana was only a couple hours away, the event drew thousands of family, friends and guests to the event. Many family members from the 1st Battalion were able to make the trip to Camp Shelby to send their Soldiers off to Iraq.

 

Soldiers from the Lynchburg-based 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team hold a formation to receive a briefing during the "Tiger Day" festivities held March 5 at Camp Shelby, Miss. The battalion will deploy to Iraq with the Louisiana National Guard¹s 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team for a yearlong security force mission. (Photo by Capt. Matt Nowak, Virginia Army National Guard Public Affairs)

Please visit the Virginia Guard Flickr page for more photos

Although Tiger Day featured the casing ceremony there was an entire days worth of events. The almost 3,000 Soldier-strong formation was reviewed by Louisiana’s Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, Bednarek and Col. Jonathan Ball, the brigade commander, in a humvee. Toward the end of the ceremony, the formation cited the Soldier’s Creed and current Miss Louisiana Katherine Putnam sang “America the Beautiful." After the ceremony Soldiers and family members were served gumbo and a treated to a concert by Louisiana performers.

The battalion last mobilized for peacekeeping duty in Kosovo from August 2006 to November 2007. Many Soldiers in the battalion were previously mobilized for duty at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba from November 2002 to September 2003 when the unit was designated 2nd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment.

Approximately 130 1st Battalion Soldiers from Bedford, Clifton Forge, Covington, Christiansburg, Lexington, Pulaski, Salem, Radford and Roanoke were assigned to Company C, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Brigade Combat Team for combat duty in Afghanistan from March 2004 to July 2005. Other individual Soldiers from the battalion have taken part in mobilizations throughout the state.

The mobilization orders call for an active duty period not to exceed 400 days, but the Secretary of Defense can extend tours for operational needs not to exceed 24 months or 730 days.

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