News: NC National Guard Military Police head to Afghanistan
Story by Capt. Rick Scoggins
RALEIGH, N.C. – Thirty soldiers from the North Carolina National Guard’s 210th Military Police Company were honored in a mobilization ceremony held in Sylva, N.C., April 17.
The group of soldiers will deploy to Afghanistan to conduct security and enforcement operations and customs inspection support for redeploying units in the region.
“It’s [Afghanistan] going to be a change for me,” said Army Staff Sgt. Joshua Holloway, a resident of Swannanoa, N.C., and noncommissioned officer deploying with the 210th. “We’re expecting a law and order and customs mission, so we’ve been trained up for it and we’re ready.”
The year long mission comes at a time when operations in Afghanistan are beginning to wind down in conjunction with plans for the U.S. military to begin withdrawing from the region in 2014. One of the group’s tasks, custom’s inspection will help units redeploying from Afghanistan reduce the military foot print there.
“We’ve be training up for a company mission now for a year,” said Army 1st Lt. James Rossi, the forward detachment commander for the group. “It’s a law and order mission and customs, so we’ll be assisting units to redeploy.”
The ceremony was held at the Southwestern Community College in Sylva, where one of the unit’s detachments is based.
Several dignitaries from the town of Sylva, the unit and NCNG command leaders attended the event to wish the unit God speed on their new journey. Families, friends and loved ones came together and sent the soldiers off with smiles, tears and hugs.
“Not only do you wear our nation’s uniform and not only do you answer our nation’s call, but you also answer the call of neighbors and communities during times of disaster in our own North state,” said Army Maj. Gen. Greg Lusk, the adjutant general of North Carolina at the ceremony.
“We as a community, as a state and as a country, we are proud of you,” said Army Lt. Col. Jerry Baird, 105th Military Police Battalion commander, the 210th’s higher headquarters. “Your actions today represent the same actions of those men and women in 1636 to keep this nation safe and to keep this nation strong.”
The deployment will be the third time that the 210th will be deployed to Southwest Asia. The unit has been deployed previously in support of Operation Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1991 and was also deployed again in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2004.
For their actions, the unit received numerous unit awards to include a Valorous Unit Award for their service in Iraq and North Carolina Governor’s Unit Citation for outstanding performance.
Seventeen of the group’s soldiers will be deploying for the first time and will rely on the remaining veterans to help guide them through the expectations and execution of their mission overseas
“We’re taking a lot more people that have not deployed before with this group, so it’s going to be a good opportunity for them to get experience with the mission that we have,” said Rossi.
For unit members who will be deploying for the first time, they take solace in what they will be leaving behind.
“I’m very excited, but I’m mostly excited to get back home to my wife,” said Spc. Cody Lail a member of the 210th, about his wife Ashley. “I will miss her every single day, but I know that she’ll be there when I get home, so I know my time will go by much faster.”
“It’s something that he loves, so I’m excited for him,” said Lail’s wife Ashley. The two newlyweds live in Robbinsville and were married late in 2012. “I have a good support system and a good relationship with the other women [in the unit] and I have a good church,” she said.
Lusk reminded the soldiers that without the support of their families, it would be difficult to execute the mission in which we are dedicated.
“You [families] represent something in every single day of our lives that makes our way of life worth defending,” said Lusk.
The group from the 210th will leave for Fort Bliss, Texas, in a matter of days and conduct follow on training there before deploying to Afghanistan later this spring.
“I see your resolve in your eyes and I know we’re in good hands,” said Lusk. “We have the right people in place to do the job; ready people, dedicated people and selfless people; that’s you.”