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Fort Drum troops say a ceremonial goodbye

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A ceremony was held recently at Fort Drum to mark the deployment of the 10th Sustainment Brigade. The brigade is made up of units with many different specialties, so it deploys in pieces rather than as a brigade to support war efforts wherever the units' different skill sets are needed. Joanna Richards attended the ceremony and has the story.

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Joanna Richards
Watertown Correspondent

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Fellow soldiers and family members of the brigade's troops filled the stands for what's called a “flag-casing” ceremony. The mood was upbeat and energetic as one by one, the different units “cased,” or packed away their flags, representing their upcoming deployments.

It was a symbolic coming-together before the brigade splits up for deployments in Kuwait, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Most of these soldiers aren't headed for combat, although some of them will be in danger. “Sustainment” soldiers are specialists in transportation, supply, maintenance, finance, clearing roads of improvised explosive devices (IEDs), defusal and disposal of IEDs, and military policing – all of the things that keep a war effort running.

The brigade's commander, Kurt Ryan, says the soldiers have been traveling all over the country in recent months, brushing up on their skills and getting specialized training.

"And that's the ununsualness of this brigade, is because it has so many different specialties, it deploys often in company and detachment-sized elements, based on requirements in the theater."

This will be Ryan's 6th deployment, his third to Afghanistan. He says there are a lot more U.S. forces in Afghanistan now than during his previous tours:

"And as a logistician, the volume is just much bigger – more stuff coming into the theater every day, more stuff requiring distribution to the forces out in the remote locations, and more forces coming and going in and out of the theater, of which we have some responsibility of supporting."

Mary Gauvin attended the ceremony. Her husband, Captain Nick Gauvin, will deploy in early spring. Strapped to her chest was the couple's new baby boy, born in July:

"He'll be a little bit older, a little more aware, but right now he's probably at an easy time for a deployment, if any deployment can be easy on a child."

Gauvin says she and her husband are spending as much time together as they can before he leaves. 

"That's the big thing right now. And we're also kind of preparing the in-laws, cause they're not used to being in the military community all the time – like, I'm in it, I live on post, I am around the Family Readiness Groups, that kind of thing. But we're making sure that his parents and family members are also feeling included."

Sergeant Major Rhonda Easter says deployments aren't exactly easy, but because she's in the military and her husband just retired, the family takes them in stride.

"My family has been kind of integrated in this in awhile, and my husband just recently retired, so we're kind of used to – we might not be able to talk as often as we do when we're back here, but you know, we'll make the adjustment rather well."

Easter was feeling well-prepared for her seventh deployment, her third to Afghanistan.

"I am very, very excited. We are a fully trained staff, with full spectrum operations certification. Um, the morale is very, very high in the unit, and everybody is looking forward to basically us contributing our part to the global war on terrorism effort."

Some of the brigade's units have already left and the deployments will continue to Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan through June of 2012.

For North Country Public Radio, I'm Joanna Richards at Fort Drum.  

 

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