Family and friends bid farewell to deploying Soldiers
By Spc. Joshua Barnett, 241st Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
NEW ORLEANS – Family and friends gathered at the University of Monroe’s Fant-Ewing Coliseum in Monroe, La., to say farewell to more than 150 members of the Louisiana National Guard’s 528th Engineer Battalion, June 3. The Soldiers traveled to Fort Bliss, Texas, where they will train for the yearlong deployment before shipping to Kuwait in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The troops will provide command and control of vertical and horizontal construction missions and projects, to include maintaining and upgrading base camps and road networks.
“This is one of the toughest days you’ll ever spend,” said Maj. Gen. Glenn H. Curtis, adjutant general of the LANG. “But on the other side, it’s kind of a bittersweet day. If you’re a family member, you’re proud to see their willingness to serve our nation.”
At the deployment ceremony, family was the primary theme.
“You are truly the unsung heroes of this deployment, you might not be wearing this uniform, but you are surely serving our nation through your personal sacrifice and separation from us … Families are our strength,” Lt. Col. Greg St. Romain, commander of the 528th, told the gathered supporters.
Several of the deploying Soldiers are taking that strength with them. There are two married couples deploying together, as well as two sets of siblings.
“It’s nice to have an actual family member, but I don’t think anyone is alone, we have each other. We may come from different places, different backgrounds, but we’re all serving the same cause so we all have each other,” said Spc. Anastasia Sylvester, who is deploying alongside her older sister.
“At the end of the day, we’re all brothers and sisters,” agreed her sister, Spc. Crystal Broussard.
St. Romain echoed that sentiment, saying, “These soldiers have come together as a true family. We are trained and ready to go.”
The 528th Engineer Battalion previously deployed to Afghanistan in 2004-2005. The unit has also responded to numerous hurricanes and disasters, including: Hurricanes Katrina and Rita in 2005, Hurricanes Gustav and Ike in 2008, the Deep Water Horizon oil spill in 2010, Operation River Guardian in 2011 and Hurricane Isaac in 2012.