Gov. Scott Walker and senior Wisconsin National Guard leadership joined families, friends and community members at a formal sendoff ceremony Sept. 30 for nearly 30 Soldiers of Detachment one, Company B, 248th Aviation Support Battalion who will deploy to the Middle East in support of Operation Spartan Shield.
The West Bend, Wisconsin-based unit will be providing UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter maintenance support while deployed.
“The state of Wisconsin has traditionally been at the forefront of answering the nation’s call to mobilize, never hesitating to send our best,” said Capt. Jared LeFaivre, commander of the deploying unit. “Whether it’s in support of the domestic mission, like Katrina or the recent hurricanes, or any number of conflicts happening across the globe, one thing is certain – Wisconsin always shows up. Wisconsin is always ready.”
LeFaivre, Walker and senior Wisconsin National Guard leadership thanked friends, family and the community for supporting the deploying Soldiers.
“Leaving home for any amount of time, whether it be an extended training or a full-fledged deployment is never an easy thing,” LeFaivre said. “Some families have gone through this, and some haven’t. What I can tell you is that your resiliency and support will be what will sustain us, and I hope that our unconditional love towards you will sustain you in our absence.”
Walker agreed with LeFaivre’s remarks.
“Every time we see men and women from Wisconsin who are deployed around the world, we know how much your prayers, your support, your well wishes and confidence in what’s happening back home means for them to be able to fulfill the mission that they’re about to embark on,” Walker said.
Command Sgt. Maj. Rafael Conde, the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s senior enlisted advisor, referenced the support he received during his deployments while addressing families.
“I could not have done what I did overseas if I did not know that my family was being taken care of,” Conde said. “That’s how important you are, and I want to thank you for that.”
Brig. Gen. Mark Anderson, Wisconsin’s deputy adjutant general for Army, echoed how important family support is.
“The success that we realize in the Wisconsin National Guard starts with the support of the family members to each and every Soldier that we have in our organization,” Anderson said. “We are blessed with an embarrassment of riches.”
Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin’s adjutant general, also addressed the families.
“Whether your Soldier is here having just finished tech school 30 days ago and about to go out the door for his first combat mission, or your Soldier is about to deploy for the fifth time, it’s hard to say goodbye every time to your loved one,” Dunbar said. “It’s one of those dynamic tensions. You love him or her so much that you don’t want them to go, but you’re so proud of them that you can’t help but admire the fact that they wear the uniform and defend this country.”
Dunbar then addressed the Soldiers, expressing confidence in the deploying unit.
“If you weren’t ready, we wouldn’t send you,” Dunbar said.
Anderson agreed, stating that the deploying unit would “knock it out of the park.”
As Walker addressed the unit, families and friends, and the community, he praised the deploying Soldiers.
“We live in the home of the free because of the brave,” Walker said.
Walker presented LeFaivre with a state flag to remind the deploying unit of the level of courage of those who have gone before and the support of those back home. Walker conveyed that the Soldiers were fully trained, equipped and prepared to accomplish the mission at hand.
While addressing his unit, LeFaivre cited Isaiah 6:8, “Also I heard the voice of the Lord saying, ‘For whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then said I, ‘Here I am. Send me.’”
“Much like Isaiah, your country has asked for volunteers, and you all answered,” LeFaivre said. “You showed up because Wisconsin shows up, and for that, I save my last thank you for you. Now let’s get to work.”
With their deployment, the Soldiers of the 248th joined a number of other Wisconsin National Guard units currently fulfilling their mission as the Army’s primary combat reserve. Approximately 270 Airmen from the 115th Fighter Wing deployed to Korea in August, while 110 Airmen from the 128th Air Control Squadron deployed to Southwest Asia in May, and more than 70 Airmen from the 128th Air Refueling Wing in Milwaukee are deploying worldwide to support global security operations. Another 150 Soldiers from the Wisconsin Army National Guard's 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation deployed to Kuwait last spring, and 35 Soldiers from the West Bend-based Company C, 1st Battalion, 168th Aviation deployed to Afghanistan last winter.
The Wisconsin National Guard is simultaneously hard at work fulfilling its role as the nation’s first military responder in times of emergency. A mobile kitchen and a team of 16 Wisconsin Air National Guard troops left Wisconsin Sept. 29 en route to Puerto Rico, where they will assist with the ongoing response to hurricanes that struck the island in recent weeks. The 115th Fighter Wing’s Joint Incident Site Communications Capability, or JISCC, deployed to Puerto Sept. 23 to assist with establishing satellite communications, radio interoperability and high-bandwidth connectivity for the responding military and non-military emergency responders operating there. And approximately 650 Wisconsin National Guard troops recently returned from Florida where they provided humanitarian relief, security and traffic control support to communities in the wake of Hurricane Irma.
Additional Soldiers and Airmen from the Wisconsin National Guard remain ready and available to serve our state and nation, if needed.