• Spc. James Nangauta Jr. (left) and Staff Sgt. Walter H. Rozanski Jr. of Headquarters-Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment, Guam Army National Guard, load duffel bags onto a vehicle in preparation for Task Force Guam's first body of troop movement out of Afghanistan, after completing their unit's Operation Enduring Freedom mission.

    Afghanistan exodus: Guam soldiers begin departure

    Spc. James Nangauta Jr. (left) and Staff Sgt. Walter H. Rozanski Jr. of Headquarters-Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment, Guam Army National Guard, load duffel bags onto a vehicle in preparation for Task Force Guam's first body...

  • Maj. Rickey M. Flores (left) Task Force Guam executive officer, and Capt. Stephanie L. Taijeron, medical officer, prepare for movement out of Camp Phoenix, Kabul, Afghanistan, recently. The pair was part of Guam's first wave of troops departing the country as 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment, Guam Army National Guard, finishes its Operating Enduring Freedom mission.

    Afghanistan exodus: Guam soldiers begin departure

    Maj. Rickey M. Flores (left) Task Force Guam executive officer, and Capt. Stephanie L. Taijeron, medical officer, prepare for movement out of Camp Phoenix, Kabul, Afghanistan, recently. The pair was part of Guam's first wave of troops departing the...

  • Staff Sgt. Jeff D. Kosaka of Headquarters-Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment, Guam Army National Guard, loads duffel bags and ruck sacks onto a vehicle recently, as Task Force Guam's first wave of Soldiers began departing Afghanistan after nearing completion of its Operation Enduring Freedom commitment.

    Afghanistan exodus: Guam soldiers begin departure

    Staff Sgt. Jeff D. Kosaka of Headquarters-Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment, Guam Army National Guard, loads duffel bags and ruck sacks onto a vehicle recently, as Task Force Guam's first wave of Soldiers began departing...

  • The first wave of tactical vehicles escorting Task Force Guam Soldiers to the Kabul airport are ground-guided out of Camp Phoenix, Afghanistan, recently. The deployed members of 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment, Guam Army National Guard, will continue departing Afghanistan in clusters after completing their historic Operation Enduring Freedom mission.

    Afghanistan exodus: Guam soldiers begin departure

    The first wave of tactical vehicles escorting Task Force Guam Soldiers to the Kabul airport are ground-guided out of Camp Phoenix, Afghanistan, recently. The deployed members of 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment, Guam Army National Guard, will...

  • Capt. Thomas Babauta (right), behavioral health officer for Task Force Guam, 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment, Guam Army National Guard, tosses a bag to Staff Sgt. Jeff D. Kosaka prior to leaving Camp Phoenix, Kabul, Afghanistan, recently. Babauta and Kosaka are part of the first wave of Guam Soldiers who departed Afghanistan, as Task Force Guam concludes its historic Operation Enduring Freedom mission.

    Afghanistan exodus: Guam soldiers begin departure

    Capt. Thomas Babauta (right), behavioral health officer for Task Force Guam, 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment, Guam Army National Guard, tosses a bag to Staff Sgt. Jeff D. Kosaka prior to leaving Camp Phoenix, Kabul, Afghanistan, recently...

  • Sgt. 1st Class Christopher D.L. Perez (left) and Staff Sgt. Charles C. Chiguina discuss a route to a Kabul airport to drop off the first group of Task Force Guam Soldiers who are leaving Afghanistan after the 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment, Guam Army National Guard, nears completion of its Operation Enduring Freedom mission.

    Afghanistan exodus: Guam soldiers begin departure

    Sgt. 1st Class Christopher D.L. Perez (left) and Staff Sgt. Charles C. Chiguina discuss a route to a Kabul airport to drop off the first group of Task Force Guam Soldiers who are leaving Afghanistan after the 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment...

  • Staff Sgt. Jeff D. Kosaka of Headquarters-Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment, Guam Army National Guard, loads duffel bags and ruck sacks onto a vehicle recently, as Task Force Guam's first wave of Soldiers began departing Afghanistan after nearing completion of its Operation Enduring Freedom commitment.

    Afghanistan exodus: Guam soldiers begin departure

    Staff Sgt. Jeff D. Kosaka of Headquarters-Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment, Guam Army National Guard, loads duffel bags and ruck sacks onto a vehicle recently, as Task Force Guam's first wave of Soldiers began departing...

CAMP PHOENIX, Afghanistan (Dec. 30, 2013) -- Operation Enduring Freedom is quickly coming to a close for the Guam Army National Guard's 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment.

Task Force Guam's first wave of troops departed Afghanistan today and will soon return to U.S. soil to commence a redeployment process. Overall, Guam will depart Afghanistan in clusters, with its final push slated for late December.

"You can see everyone's excited and they should be. We've been here nine months and have been a very, very busy battalion," said Maj. Rickey M. Flores, Task Force Guam executive officer, who's leading the first group out of the country. "There's still a lot that needs to be done before we finally make our way to Guam. But right now, this is an important day. We're starting to come home. We'll be with our families very soon."

The Guam was distributed at locations in Afghanistan, and its exodus will take place at multiple terminals. In stages, Guam Soldiers will unite at an American base in Europe before flying to Camp Shelby, Miss., for medical and administrative demobilization.

Likewise, Guam's replacement unit, the 2nd Battalion, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, continues trickling into Afghanistan and will reach full strength by the time Guam officially transfers authority shortly after Christmas Day.

"They're our new best friends," said Lt. Col. Michael Tougher, Task Force Guam commander, about the 508th. "We're providing as much information on how we performed as a Task Force so they can plan their operations. Every aspect, from our platoon sergeants to company commanders to special staff, is actively engaged in this transition."

The 508th will operate as Task Force 2-Fury, said Maj. Mike J. McDermott, executive officer. McDermott is part of an advanced team that arrived in early December to start the transition.

"Task Force Guam is squared away," McDermott said. "We've been looking at their [standard operating procedures] and checking what needs to be changed. Honestly, we couldn't think of anything. That says a lot about the Guam National Guard."

This is the first time the 508th will replace a National Guard unit, McDermott explained. Unlike the 294th's strength of nearly 600 Soldiers, Task Force 2-Fury will operate with about 400 troops, and still show presence in the International Security Assistance Force's six regional commands, just like the Guam Soldiers did.

"This is a totally different mission than what we've previously done," said McDermott. "But we're a very experienced battalion."

The 508th is making it's fourth Afghanistan deployment since 2007. Some Soldiers were here in 2012, said 1st Lt. William Hernandez, Task Force 2-Fury personnel officer.

When Guam officially concludes its Operation Enduring Freedom duties, it will have amassed more than 10,000 missions in roles such as personal security, guardian angels and security forces, Flores explained. Other responsibilities included perimeter security and entry control point missions, and all elements of the unit were instrumental in supporting the NATO Training Mission-Afghanistan and Combined Security Transition Command-Afghanistan's overall goal to support Afghanistan's national security.

"Everyone was committed to duty despite the dangers that existed," Flores stated. "Soldiers were still willing to put their lives on the line for the greater good."

Page last updated Tue December 31st, 2013 at 10:24