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1138th Soldiers depart for deployment training
Ninty-three Citizen-Soldiers from the 1138th Engineer Company from Farmington and Fredericktown departed for mobilization training at Fort Bliss, Texas.
The unit -- which draws Soldiers from the 1140th Engineer Battalion in Cape Girardeau -- is part of Operation Enduring Freedom operations in Afghanistan, and will be conducting route clearance missions.
The Soldiers have been undergoing extensive pre-mobilization training at Camp Clark in Nevada, Mo. since early June for their nine-month mission. Training conducted there included weapons qualifications, route clearance operations and tactics, battle drills and warrior tasks.
At Fort Bliss, the Soldiers will focus on squad and platoon battle drills and tasks while being in vehicles and environments similar to that in which they will encounter while deployed. After mobilization training at Fort Bliss, the Soldiers will deploy to Afghanistan in mid-August.
Before their departure ceremony, the unit conducted a company run through downtown Farmington to show their appreciation to the community for their support.
At the end of the run, Capt. Jason Davis, company commander, presented a 1138th unit flag to Stuart Landrum, mayor of Farmington.
"Even though I'm from Wentzville I feel like Farmington is my second home," Davis told the gathered crowd of Families, friends and community leaders.
"We are proud of each and every one of you," Landrum told the Soldiers. "We respect you for having the courage to go over there and do what you do. Thousands of people in Farmington will be thinking of you every day."
Landrum said the flag will fly at city hall until the unit returns in May 2013.
Following the run, Families, friends and the community honored the Soldiers' service at a departure ceremony.
Maj. Gen. Stephen L. Danner, Missouri National Guard Adjutant General, addressed the Soldiers reminding them that although this is the third deployment for the unit, to have confidence in one another and keep each other safe.
"I want to remind you that when you're over there, you have a mission," said Danner. "But safety first, look to your Veterans."
Everyday would be a challenge for the Soldiers to remain focused, said Danner, but he charged the Soldiers to remain vigilant to the very last day and bring every one home.
Danner also reminded the Soldiers to maintain communication with their Families, no matter how difficult things got. And their mission wasn't complete until they returned home and Soldiers and their Families completed the Missouri National Guard's Yellow Ribbon Program.
The program provides Soldiers and their Families and Supporters with services, proactive outreach opportunities, reintegration and communication skills throughout each phase of their deployment cycle.
"The Missouri National Guard will do our part here at home Capt. Davis to support whatever yours troops need," said Danner.
Following a long standing deployment tradition, an U.S. flag and a Missouri flag were presented to the oldest and youngest member of the unit.
Sgt. Jeffrey Stevens, who turned 52 years old that morning, accepted the U.S. flag from Danner. Pvt. Imaum Weakley, who is 18 and joined the Missouri National Guard in August 2011, accepted the Missouri flag from Command Sgt. Maj. James E. Schulte, State Command Sergeant Major.
Stevens and Weakley, with the support of the 1138th Soldiers, are charged to proudly fly the flags during the entirety of their deployment and return them safely 10 months from now.
The 1138th Engineer Company is commanded by Davis, of Wentzville, and 1st Sgt. Richard Parks, of Salem. While deployed, the company will fall under the command and control of the 120th Engineer Battalion, Oklahoma National Guard.
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