The Edmond Sun

November 1, 2012

Army hosts deployment ceremony at Expo in McAlester

Rachel Peterson
CNHI News Service

McALESTER — Soldiers from the Army National Guard’s 1245th Transportation Company, along with their loved ones, family, friends and community members, participated in a deployment ceremony Saturday afternoon at the Southeast Expo Center in McAlester.

The 1245th Transportation Company, headquartered in McAlester, is a medium truck company whose soldiers are trained in the operation of the Army’s palletized loading systems, according to Lt. Col. Max Moss of the Oklahoma Military Department’s Office of Public Affairs.

Soldiers with the 1245th Transportation Company will travel to Fort Hood, Texas, for post-mobilization training, Moss said, before deploying to Afghanistan in late December.

“While deployed to Afghanistan they will be responsible for transporting supplies throughout their area of operation along with providing security for themselves and contracted civilians,” Moss said. “They will be mobilized for one year and deployed to Afghanistan for approximately nine months.”

Before the ceremony began, hundreds of people began to fill the seats in the stands at the Expo center. There was excited chatter about the soldiers’ upcoming journey. One young boy, about 5 or 6 years old, wore a camouflage outfit, matching that of his loved one who is about to deploy overseas.

When the ceremony began and the soldiers entered the Expo Center, they marched in unison with proud, stoic looks on their faces.

Maj. Gen. Myles L. Deering, the adjutant general of Oklahoma, was the first of three guest speakers to address those in attendance at the ceremony Saturday afternoon. “Thank you for being here today,” Deering said to the people in the stands, “to say a temporary farewell.” And then to the soldiers, Deering said, “I’m so proud of each and every one of you.

“You are fulfilling a unique and much needed role in Afghanistan.

“Please know that the Oklahoma National Guard, your family and the people of this community support you, Deering said. “Our Nation recognizes your sacrifice.”

Deering continued to talk about how the company is no stranger to conflict. In March 2003, its members deployed to Iraq for one year and then again in 2008 for a year to Iraq.

“I’m completely confident that you will represent this great state, the nation and this community well, not just well, but exemplarily.”

Both Deering, and the second guest speaker, Col. Carl L. Franks, commander of the 90th Troop Command, told the soldiers how important it is to stay in contact with loved ones back home as much as possible while deployed.

Deering and Franks also told the soldiers to take care of each other while overseas.

In addressing the audience, Franks said, “These soldiers are well trained and will make Oklahoma proud.”

Then to the soldiers, he said, “I am proud of each and every one of you.”

The final speaker at the ceremony, Lt. Col. Brad Carter, the commander of the 345th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, said he has spent the past seven months watching the 1245th Transportation Company prepare to go overseas. “They are the best trained, best led, most motivated unit” Carter has seen, he said.

To the soldiers’ family and friends, Carter said, “We all recognize the sacrifices you make.” And to the soldiers, he said, “You will serve with distinction, just as all Thunderbirds have in the past. Serve with distinction, do your duties and come home safe. God bless and godspeed.”