News: Community welcomes home 3-116th Field Artillery from deployment
PLANT CITY, Fla. - More than 300 soldiers of the 3rd Battalion, 116th Field Artillery (FA) Regiment, and its subordinate units, commanded by Lt. Col. David S. Pellett, were graciously greeted by over 1,000 family and friends as they arrived by bus from Camp Shelby, Miss., on Sunday afternoon at the Plant City Strawberry Festival Grounds. The tight knit community of Plant City eagerly hosted the redeployment of the 3-116th FA soldiers from nearly a year-long deployment in Qatar.
The battalion was thankful for the support received from several organizations in the community to include the Plant City Strawberry Festival Committee, the American Legion Post 71, the USO, and Operation Homefront. The Soldiers were greeted by Gov. Rick Scott, Adjutant General of Florida Maj. Gen. Emmett Titshaw, Assistant Adjutant General for Army Maj. Gen. James Tyre and 164th Air Defense Artillery Brigade Commander Col. Matthew Hearon as they unloaded the buses at the festival grounds prior to a brief redeployment ceremony and finally being reunited with their families.
“It is so gratifying to see everyone make it back home to their families and friends safe and sound,” Col. Hearon told the soldiers during the welcome home ceremony. “I cannot express enough how proud we are to see you home and how proud we are of your service this past year.”
The 3-116th was one of the largest organizations to deploy outside the continental United States in the past year from the Florida Army National Guard. Lt. Col. Pellett provided command and control for more than 450 Soldiers comprised of both Florida Army National Guard and New York National Guard soldiers. Over 300 Soldiers of the 3-116th unit provided Security Force Operations (SECFOR) in support of Operation Enduring Freedom at various military installations to include Camp As Sayliyah, Qatar, from April 2013 until December 2013. Headquarter and Headquarters Battery (HHB), 3-116th, Commanded by Capt. Christopher Dunson, provided command and control of the unit at Camp As Sayliyah. SECFOR A, Commanded by 1st Lt. Jane Tull, provided force protection operations for security assets in Qatar.
SECFOR B, Commanded by Capt. Rory Yarbrough, provided Security Force Operations for Camp As Sayliyah to include camp security. The 3-116th was the last National Guard unit to perform this highly strategic mission and transferred responsibility and authority of this mission to an active duty unit.
Throughout the deployment, the soldiers and families remained busy both home and abroad. The battalion had a very active and integrated Family Readiness Group and even recognized 20 new babies into their ranks during the deployment. The battalion conducted over 80 enlisted promotions. They hosted and created the first Enlisted Promotion Ceremony held on the Camp and set the standard for years to come. Soldiers also had the opportunity to maintain their non-commissioned officer education by graduating 29 soldiers from a Warrior Leader Course held in Kuwait.
The 3-116th completed its mission professionally and efficiently to ensure that millions of dollars of assets on all assigned sites as well as all personnel were properly maintained, safeguarded and secured. Now the soldiers of the unit are able to enjoy their hard earned leave with their family and friends.