November 4 , 2002, 23:15 EDT

Soldiers prepare for deployment

by Spec. Stephanie Willer
Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office


 
Spec Jason Pence re-packs his duffle bag as Specialists Howard Ni (r) and Neil Wood share a light moment as their unit, B Company 2d Bn 116th Infantry prepares for deployment to Fort Bragg, NC. With space limited during the deployment, each soldier has only 3 bags to bring with him. Only one of the bags can contain civialian clothing or personal items. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Mark Turney, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office)
Lexington, Va. --The boots are shined, the uniform is pressed, and the car is packed for the trip. You know the drill; once a month, National Guard soldiers from around the Commonwealth say goodbye to their loved ones and report to their duty stations for the weekend. However, this time they won't be heading back home at the end of their training.

On November 3, 2002 several units from the 1st Brigade 29th Infantry Division (Light) deployed to Ft. Bragg, N.C. after being placed on federal active service, which began November 1, 2002. "We will be on federal active status for a period of one year, and we may be activated for up to an additional twelve months at the discretion of the Secretary of Defense," said 1st Lt. William F. Steinbach, a platoon leader with Co. B 2nd Bat. of the 116th Infantry (light).

According to Steinbach, the unit was activated last year by the State for a two-week training mission but this will be the first time in many years that the unit has been activated for federal service.

In support of ‘Operation Enduring Freedom' the federal government is mobilizing Guard and Reserve units in the war against terrorism. Steinbach explained, "After September 11th, President George W. Bush said during an address to Congress, ‘We are now at war.’ In his address, he explained that it would be a total service war and that he would be utilizing the Guard and Reserve." Steinbach added, “It sounds like a cliché, but that’s what we are here to do; support the active military.”

   
Posing for the camera, Spec Adrian Lewis-Walker says farewell to his family as his unit, B Company 2d Bn 116th Infantry prepares for deployment to Fort Bragg, NC. Lewis-Walker, originally of Southern Australia, became a US citizen on Friday just for this deployment after petitioning the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service for an early swearing in. The Lewis-Walker family has lived in the United States for the past five years. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Mark Turney, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office)
 
During active status, the Guard is a partner with the Active Army and the Army Reserves in fulfilling the country's military needs. In the past two years Guard soldiers have pulled duty in more than 80 countries in a wide variety of operations including peacekeeping, stabilization, security, nation building, etc.

The One-hundred soldiers from the Lexington, Va. unit will be stationed at Ft. Bragg N.C. until further notice. Co. B as well as Co. A from Charlottesville/ Lynchburg, and Co. C in Harrisonburg, Va. will be mobilized together and will fall under the 1st Army Command until the actual mission has been disclosed.

Steinbach, who is also a Virginia Military Institute (VMI) graduate, was very optimistic about their mission. He mentioned that he had spoken to other members of his unit and the general consensus was "We are here to serve our country."

Some of the soldiers of Co. B have gone to great lengths to ensure that they are giving back to their country during this time of need.

Cpl. John H. Moseroll, who would have been graduating from a surgical first assistant program this December, decided to put school on hold so he could be part of the mobilization. He was scheduled to separate from his unit in December and instead, re-enlisted for one more year.

Moseroll said, "When it's time to do you duty, you just do it! Plus, I couldn't bare the thought of my friends going without me."

Sgt. Adrian J. Lewis-Walker, NBC NCO, who became a U.S. Citizen on November 1, 2002, transferred to the unit this past weekend. Lewis-Walker was born in Australia. He moved to the U.S. five years ago with his wife, Kari, son, Michael, and daughter Machena. He joined the Guard as soon as he arrived on American soil. "I love America, and would die for it," said Lewis-Walker. Kari, who was sitting next to him said, "We are very proud of Adrian. We will miss him but we know that this is what he wants to do." She explained, "We are trying to look at the positives not the negatives. This will give the children an opportunity to make him gifts and send him letters."

 
Spec Adrian Lewis-Walker says farewell to his family as his unit, B Company 2d Bn 116th Infantry prepares for deployment to Fort Bragg, NC. Lewis-Walker, originally of Southern Australia, became a US citizen on Friday just for this deployment after petitioning the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service for an early swearing in. The Lewis-Walker family has lived in the United States for the past five years. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Mark Turney, Virginia National Guard Public Affairs Office)
The soldiers will be able to accrue leave time during their active duty. "As far as when leave will be possible depends on the mission presented. If the operational tempo is too high, we won’t be able to leave, “said Steinbach. However, there will be an information center available to soldiers so they can send e-mails and call family members on a weekly to daily basis.

There have been some speculations that they will be ending their tour under the United States' homeland defense mission ‘Operation Noble Eagle’ but the mission has yet to be determined. All missions will be contingent on the status of our military's involvement around the world, when that time comes.

Steinbach concluded, "These men are prime examples of this deployment raising the level of people's patriotism and a soldier's desire to serve his country."
Hopefully, current and future mobilizations will raise the level of awareness of what the Guard and reservist do. The Guard needs support from families as well as employers.


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