News: Volunteer Departure Ceremony for Afghanistan
Story by Maj. Will Cox
MACON, Ga. - Macon’s own 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Georgia Army National Guard deployed more than 200 guardsmen to Afghanistan Sunday to conduct a variety of training and security missions in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Buses departed from the ceremony in Macon lead by the Georgia State Patrol and the Patriot Riders.
Macon’s Mayor Robert Reichert, Georgia National Guard’s Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Jim Butterworth, 48th IBCT Commander Col. Randall V. Simmons and others stood in front of more than 1,000 family members and friends to honor the courage and sacrifice of the deploying guardsmen prior to goodbye hugs and the bus convoy departure.
“Our mission primarily is going to be security in the Kabul area and to close the bases as part of the drawdown in Afghanistan,” said Simmons. “We have handpicked this team to go down range. Many of these guardsmen are deploying with civilian experience in security and law enforcement and we look forward to bringing their skills to the table as we conduct the security mission during the drawdown.”
Family members hugged their Georgia Guardsmen one more time before they lined up to get on the buses to depart for Afghanistan. Family members and friends then lined the street to wave to their deploying guardsmen as they were escorted by the Patriot Riders and the Georgia State Patrol to their mobilization site and then onward to Afghanistan.
“I am proud of my husband choice to serve and will support him while he is deployed,” said Lauren Hodges, 48th IBCT Family Readiness Group leader. “The FRG is so important, no one understands quite what a deployed spouse is going through like another deployed spouse, and that is what the FRG does. In addition to supporting spouses, we also help connect spouses with Government services and nonprofit agencies that can help meet their individual needs.”
The 48th IBCT spent most of 2013 preparing for their future overseas deployments to Afghanistan. Additionally, the 48th IBCT was the first Army National Guard unit selected to support the Department of Defense’s Regionally Aligned Forces mission and will deploy select units to Central America to advise and train partner nations’ military in 2014.
The 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, headquartered in Macon, is made up of more than 3,500 citizen soldiers who operate out of 26 hometown armories throughout the state.
The Georgia Army National Guard consists of more than 11,100 citizen-soldiers training in more than 57 hometown armories and regional facilities across the state. Georgia’s Army Guard is the eighth largest in the nation, and includes combat, combat support and combat service support units. The Georgia Army National Guard is organized into six major subordinate commands: the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in Macon; the 78th Troop Command, the 78th Aviation Troop Command and 201st Regional Support Command at Clay National Guard Center in Marietta; the Cumming based 560th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade; and the 648th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade in Columbus at Fort Benning.