BAGHDAD— Atop Al Faw Palace's courage balcony, Soldiers of the 13th Public Affairs Detachment, Fort Hood, Texas, stood ready to transfer authority to the 114th Public Affairs Detachment, a National Guard PAD from Concord, N.H., in a ceremony, April 29.
Shortly before the ceremony began, members of the detachments conversed on the balcony overlooking Camp Victory on an overcast day here, their excited discussions echoing off the walls. While the members of the 114th PAD spoke of what was to come, Soldiers from the 13th PAD had mixed emotions about their departure from Iraq.
"It's bittersweet," said Staff Sgt. Joy Pariante, non-commissioned officer in charge of the 13th PAD. "I'm excited to be going home but, on the other hand, this has been my home for the past 15 months."
The 13th PAD arrived in theater February 2008 and worked closely with the XVIII Airborne Corps Public Affairs Office from Fort Bragg, N.C., to augment the MNC-I public affairs mission. The mission included planning, disseminating command information, improving media relations and working in the Joint Operations Center.
"We got the once in a lifetime opportunity to help in [the] planning process," said Capt. Isaac Taylor, 13th PAD commander. "We got the opportunity to capture those plans going into action through print, imagery and broadcast products."
In addition, the Soldiers supported numerous high-profile events, including the final visit of President George W. Bush last December and the first Iraq visit by President Barack Obama made in early April. They also covered the largest naturalization and re-enlistment ceremony ever completed on foreign soil.
"The Soldiers of the 13th Public Affairs Detachment were an integral part of relaying the successes of numerous coalition force initiatives, including reconciliation and reconstruction," said Brig. Gen. Heidi V. Brown, MNC-I deputy commanding general for sustainment, the ceremony's guest speaker.
"Their consistent coverage of the Sons of Iraq allowed the American public to have a deeper understanding of the program, which was absolutely key in improving and sustaining security in the region...the 114th PAD has a big place to fill within Multi-National Corps-Iraq," Brown said.
Capt. Robert Burnham, commander of the 114th PAD, applauded Taylor and his team for a job well done and said that the 13th PAD served with true military distinction during their tour.
"You have succeeded in your mission of informing and educating people of all backgrounds of the stories of our American military, coalition forces and Iraqi partners as they work together for a more prosperous Iraq," Burnham said.
"Thank you for forging the path we are about to embark on," Burnham said.
Over the past two decades, the 114th PAD has been one of the most deployed assets in the New Hampshire National Guard, including a Bosnia tour in 1995 and supporting peacekeeping missions in Kosovo in 2002. The PAD has also supported humanitarian missions in the Caribbean, Central America and in the Gulf Coast region of the United States in the wake of hurricanes Katrina and Rita. They have provided critical support to the New Hampshire Homeland Security and Emergency Management office during declared state of emergencies for the 2006 floods and the ice storm in December 2008.
This work, Journalists continue on path paved by 13th Public Affairs Detachment, by Lindsey Kibler, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.