News: Air traffic control Soldiers deploy to Kuwait
Story by Maj. Randall Stillinger
SAN ANTONIO – A detachment of San Antonio Soldiers will be leaving their families for nine months as they deploy to the Middle East. On Wednesday, a brief ceremony at Martindale Army Airfield marked the occasion as the Texas Army National Guard Soldiers were brought onto federal service for the deployment to Kuwait.
The Soldiers of F Company, 2-149th General Support Aviation Battalion (GSAB) will provide air traffic control (ATC) services for U.S. forces in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The unit’s mission includes providing flight following for aircraft, weather reports, warnings to pilots, and Ground Control Approach (GCA) radar service across the area.
The 15 Soldiers will spend the next three months training at Fort Hood before their movement to Camp Buehring in Kuwait, which will occur sometime in August. While deployed, the Texas Soldiers will be assigned to a company from the Massachusetts Army National Guard. Their higher headquarters will be the 34th Combat Aviation Brigade from the Minnesota Army National Guard.
Getting to this point, where the detachment is ready to go to Fort Hood and beyond, has been no small accomplishment. A year ago, over 90 percent of the Soldiers required training and certification in order to become deployable.
Lt. Col. Joanna Gale, commander of the 2-149th, said, “I’m incredibly proud of these Soldiers and the long list of accomplishments over the last year that allowed them to get here today.”
“You are deploying under another state’s flag, but you’ll always be Texas Soldiers,” Gale said. “We will be here for you and your families while you’re deployed.”
Air traffic controllers have a critical role in Kuwait as the desert weather can deteriorate quickly causing low visibility and blinding sand storms. It is their job to ensure that aircraft remain properly separated and are given the proper instructions at the right time to get them on the ground safely.
Pfc. Juston Wilson, of Dalhart, Texas, is relatively new to the National Guard and is deploying overseas for the first time.
“I’m a little nervous, but we’re very well-trained and know what to expect over there,” Wilson said. “It should be smooth sailing.”
The 36th Combat Aviation Brigade, which has its headquarters in Austin, recently returned from a deployment to Kuwait and will support these Soldiers as they go forward.
Date Posted:06.05.2014 20:52
Location:SAN ANTONIO, TX, US
Hometown:AUSTIN, TX, US
Hometown:DALHART, TX, US
Hometown:FORT WORTH, TX, US
Hometown:KELLER, TX, US
Hometown:SAN ANTONIO, TX, US