Nearly 150 West Tennessee Guardsmen leaving for Afghanistan |
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Tennessee Army National Guard soldiers from the 130th Military Police Company based in Memphis leave Tuesday, July 17, on the first leg of a journey taking them to Afghanistan for a one-year deployment as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
A deployment ceremony for families and friends will be held at the National Guard Armory on 2610 Holmes Rd. at 9 a.m. this Tuesday. Following the ceremony, the soldiers will depart the Armory at roughly 10 a.m. for Camp Shelby, MS, for 60 to 70 days of specialized pre-deployment training prior to leaving for Afghanistan.
“I’m looking forward to deploying,” said Sgt. Richard Easter, a team leader with the 130th. “We’ve had a lot of great training over the past few months and we’re prepared for the unique mission ahead.”
The 130th is the first Tennessee National Guard Military Police unit to deploy to Afghanistan since the Global War on Terrorism began. “So far, all the other MP units in the state have deployed to Iraq,” said Capt. Aaron Perry, the unit’s company commander. “We’re unique in that we’ll be the first to go to Afghanistan.”
The 130th was deployed in 2007 and 2008 to Kosovo where it provided law enforcement at Camp Bondsteel and assisted in security and providing a safe environment throughout the country before, during, and after Kosovo declared independence. It’s also the only Tennessee National Guard Military Police unit to deploy to Kosovo.
The unit feels prepared for the mission ahead.
“We have a lot of Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan veterans in the company,” Perry added. “The unit is well trained and has a lot of experience. I look forward to getting overseas to see what we’re capable of.”
The 130th is a military police guard company whose primary mission is providing security for facilities and installations, as well as conducting detainee operations. It is composed of soldiers primarily from the Memphis area.
More than 27,000 Tennessee Army and Air Guardsmen have deployed since Sept. 11, 2001.
Information provided by the Tennessee Army and Air National Guard.