CNHI News Service
Soldiers in training at Camp Gruber met with media Friday when it was announced the 1245th Transportation Company of the Oklahoma Army National Guard will deploy to Afghanistan in late December.
The company of about 115 soldiers hail from all over the state. Many are preparing for their first tour of duty in the Middle East, and many are going for their second or third tour.
Capt. James Coffman of Ardmore will lead the company while in Afghanistan — a tour that is expected to last for at least nine months.
Coffman, who has been in command of the 1245th for about nine months, said this group stands out above all others.
“I want you to know how great our soldiers and our leadership is in this company,” he said. “This is my second command, but this unit is the best I’ve ever had.”
Friday began as any other training day for the group, with practice at the gun range. However, rain and lightning brought the soldiers indoors, where they talked about their past experiences.
Spc. Malachi McCary of Ada will be serving his second tour. He served his first tour in Iraq with the 1120th Maintenance Company out of Ada.
That company has since disbanded, so McCary goes on his second tour with the 1245th.
McCary got engaged before his first tour of duty and married on his return four years ago.
He volunteered for this deployment to Afghanistan.
“Truthfully, I’m excited, but I’m scared,” McCary said. “There are times I wonder why I chose to go on this deployment, especially when I know it’s going to be a completely different ballgame.”
Samantha Maddox of Tulsa is heading for her first deployment — she too volunteered for the mission.
Maddox has been married for almost six months, and her husband is at Camp Gruber in training as well.
But he will stay home when she leaves for Afghanistan.
“I’m sure he’s not too happy, but I’m sure he’s excited for me, too,” she said.
Maddox, who is one of about 16 women who will deploy with the 1245th, is a truck driver.
“I’m nervous, but at the same time it’s going to be an experience I won’t forget,” she said.
The 1245th continues its training at Camp Gruber for a short time, then moves on to Fort Hood, Texas, for another six weeks of training.
They will leave for Afghanistan in late June.