2003, 18:05 EDT
Infantry returns from Cuba mission
Maj. Ed Larkin
29th Inf. Div. Public Affairs Officer
from 2nd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment stand by to transfer
authority of the Guantanamo Bay, Cuba security mission to the
1st Battalion, 181st Infantry Regiment from the Massachusetts
National Guard.(Photo courtesy the 29th Inf. Div. Public Affairs
29th Infantry Division (Light) continues to play a vital role on the
war on terrorism. For the last nine months, the 2nd Battalion, 116th
Infantry Battalion from the Virginia Army National secured the detention
area in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. On September 19, 2003 the 2nd Battalion,
116th Infantry Regiment transferred authority and the mission to the
1st Infantry Battalion, 181st Infantry Regiment of the Massachusetts
Army National Guard.
Both of these proud units are part of the symbolic Blue and Gray in
the 29th Infantry Division shoulder patch. During the Civil War these
units met during the Battle of Fredericksburg. Today, they are equal
partners in a common goal to defeat terrorism. Both of these battalions
have answered the call against the terrorist enemy, first after 9/11
providing soldiers for Operation Noble Eagle and today providing soldiers
for Operation Enduring Freedom.
The primary mission for the Infantry soldiers of Joint Task Force Guantanamo
is providing security and a quick reaction force to deal with any threats.
The on ground force also uses the time for training and skills enhancement.
“We came to Guantanamo a very good battalion and we are leaving
a great battalion,” said Lt. Col. Tom Wilkinson, 2nd Bn. commander.
“This a tough mission and we really pulled together as team. I
am returning with the best soldiers in the Army.”
The one thing you can count on in Cuba is hot weather. During the initial
right seat / left seat ride transition training the 1st Bn. experienced
nothing but “Black Flag” days – a heat stress index
above 115. Summer is warm in Massachusetts, but not like this. Regardless
of the heat, the mission goes on.
The mission calls for around the clock operations with both mounted
and dismounted patrols. The Ranger patrols (walking patrols) go all
night and day. The Striker patrols (mounted patrols) also run 24 hours
with a few hours of preparation and maintenance at the beginning and
end of each shift.
The 2nd Bn. is leaving with knowing they have done great job and the
1st Bn. is proud to carry the flag and do their part defeating terrorism.
“You should all be very proud of the excellent job you did serving
your country,” said Maj. Gen. Geff Miller, Task Force Guantanamo
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