News: Finance Soldiers deploy to the Middle East
Story by Sgt. 1st Class Chantell Black
NEW ORLEANS — Though President Barack Obama has ordered the drawdown of troops in support of the war, a New Orleans based Army Reserve unit gathered together with family and friends at the World War II Museum in New Orleans, Saturday morning, August 2, 2014, to say their final goodbyes as they deploy overseas in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The unit deploying in support of OEF is the 469th Financial Management Support Center, based at the James H. Diamond Army Reserve Center in Gentilly. The 469th FMSC is a subordinate unit of the 377th Theater Sustainment Command, which is based out of the Naval Air Station-Joint Reserve Base in Belle Chasse.
The 469th FMSC is expecting to deploy to Kuwait and is planning on being further separated into six individual teams that will be providing technical oversight and management for all finance units in theater, including Qatar, Jordan and Afghanistan.
For many of the 469th FMSC, Soldiers deploying this is their first. A challenge many face is being away from loved ones for so long, the deployment is expected to be nine months.
Helping soothe the pain and anxiety of deployment separation is the Soldiers are armed with the knowledge that they are accomplishing a task they trained for, serving overseas as Soldiers to assist in the drawdown.
“I’m extremely excited,” Spc. Clyde Torres said. “I think one of the things I like most about our mission is that I’m bringing some of our boys [Soldiers] back and it can’t get any better than that.”
Attending the ceremony were Maj. Gen. Peter Lennon, commander of the 377th Theater Sustainment Command, parent unit of the 469th FMSC; Col. (Ret.) Michael Bendich and Command Sgt. Maj. Curtis Wesson, Command Sergeant Major of the United States Army Financial Management Command (USAFMCOM) in Indianapolis.
Lennon provided encouragement to his departing Soldiers; “Let them [family members] know all the important stuff that you’re doing,” Lennon said. He encouraged them to communicate with loved ones frequently and in a more humorous tone, advised family members and friends to use a special item as collateral to ensure promises are kept.
“And to the family members, if they’re not emailing you or getting on Skype, stop sending them cookies!” Lennon said.
In the months leading up to deployment the Soldiers and their families sought guidance from different resources to prepare for the hardship and the unexpected experiences they may encounter over the next year.
“We went to family and marriage counseling and I have a power of attorney to handle the things I would need to do in his absence,” said Keionna Harmon, wife of Spc. Lavell Harmon.
The 469th FMSC was established in New Orleans in 1991, it is actually on its third wartime deployment in support of wartime mission requirements.
The 469th FMSC first deployed to Iraq and Kuwait in 2003 through 2004 for Operation Iraqi Freedom, and Operation Enduring Freedom. In 2008 through 2009 the unit deployed to Kuwait in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
One person who knows the 469th FMSC and its deployments very well, and has been with the unit for its first two deployments and will be deploying again with 469th FMSC, is Col. Matthew Sims, he is now the director of the 469th FMSC.
Sims is proud to have witnessed the progress of the financial operations of this war and how the 469th FMSC has played such an important role in the war effort. He is planning on retiring upon return from this deployment.
“When we (469th FMSC) first came into theater in 2003, our big push was getting dollars on the battlefield to get the economy going,” Sims said. “Now we’re actually retrograding U.S. dollars out of the theater so that’s an indication of how the operation is going and we’re very happy to go back and finish this war fight.”