Texas Gov. Rick Perry visits deployed troops
July 28, 2009
- Texas Gov. Rick Perry and four other state governors visit Afghanistan.
- 636th Military Intelligence Battalion throws Gov. Perry a Texas style barbecue
- Gov. Perry presents the battalion with new state flag to fly over the bn. headquarters
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, AFGHANISTAN - Texas Governor Rick Perry stepped away from the warmth of the Texas hill country to hot and arid Afghanistan to visit and thank U.S. troops and members of the Texas Military Forces, July 20 and 21. He was part of with a delegation of governors invited by the Department of Defense.
Perry traveled with Nevada Gov. Jim Gibbons, Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn, and Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty. While in Afghanistan, they went to the U.S. Embassy and military instillations in Kabul, Ghazni, and Bagram Air Field.
Perry is no stranger to the combat zone having previously visited with Texas Soldiers and service members in January and in 2006.
Members of the 636th Military Intelligence Battalion, 71st Battlefield Surveillance Brigade, 36th Infantry Division, Texas Army National Guard, stationed at Bagram Air Field, greeted the governor and provided a Texas-style ranch reception.
One of the highlights of the trip for Perry was presenting a Texas flag to U.S. Army Lt. Col. Thomas J. Kleis, the battalion commander of the Texas military intelligence unit known as Task Force Deguello.
TF Deguello is the only MI battalion serving in Afghanistan and has Soldiers at several dozen locations across the country.
"I am proud to present this Texas flag, flown over our great Texas capital so you may hoist it high here in Afghanistan," Perry told Kleis. "May this flag serve as a reminder of the support you and our Texas troops have from the citizens of the great state of Texas."
After the 636th raised the Texas flag, Perry posed for pictures with the unit and other Texans serving in the combat zone. Texas MI unit members gathered around the governor as the summer heat faded to a comfortable breeze allowing the Texas flag to fly in full glory behind the group.
After giving Perry a brief on the only MI battalion in theater, Kleis commented, "Gov. Perry knows how hard we're working over here." Kleis continued, "We gave him a little more fidelity on the insurgents and weapons caches we are taking off the battlefield."
The Soldiers had a chance to visit with the governors that evening at the reception while enjoying live country music performed by the 82nd Airborne Division band. As more photos with the governors were taken, steaks sizzled on the grill filling the air with the promise of a fine meal. Home-made salsa, baked beans, corn, tortillas and a Texas favorite, pecan pie with vanilla ice cream rounded the menu.
Perry presided at the reenlistment of U.S. Army Staff Sgt. William N. Brown, assigned to Bravo Company as a unit supply specialist. Brown normally works at Forward Operating Base Asad Abad, but was at Bagram for a resupply.
"I had no idea my reenlistment ceremony was scheduled to coincide with the governor's visit," Brown, said. "It was an honor to stand beside the governor and take the oath of reenlistment, I'll never forget it."
Perry and the delegation traveled the following day to visit FOB Ghazni where a Texas based Human Intelligence Collection Team showed them automatic and recoilless rifles confiscated during military operations.
Perry took a few minutes to pin the prestigious Combat Action Badge on three Soldiers who recently were attacked on two separate patrols.
"I know you work hard through difficult and dangerous conditions to protect others, and deserve our highest honor and deepest appreciation," Perry told the Soldiers.
After departing Afghanistan the delegation departed for Germany to visit the U.S. hospital at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center.
"The Texas Military Forces are proudly serving in Operation Enduring Freedom, and represent the largest number of National Guard troops deployed in the nation to Overseas Contingency Operations," Texas Adjutant General Maj. Gen. Jose Mayorga said. "There are Texas soldiers who are on their 4th or 5th deployment since 2001; and continue to serve selflessly. These men and women are Texas heroes and heroines, and great Americans."
As of May 2009, Texas had more than 35,000 deployed service members, including approximately 4,500 from the Texas National Guard, more than any other state in the nation.