• Soldiers of the Vicenza, Italy-based 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team catch a nap while waiting to board an aircraft to deploy to Afghanistan Dec. 9 at Aviano Air Base in Aviano, Italy.  The 700-plus troops waited in the state-of-the-art personnel alert holding area, an Army-managed facilty at the air base.  Servicemembers can watch TV, nap or get a bite to eat in the temperature-controlled facilty while waiting for aircraft.

    Hundreds more 173rd ABCT Soldiers deploy to Afghanistan

    Soldiers of the Vicenza, Italy-based 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team catch a nap while waiting to board an aircraft to deploy to Afghanistan Dec. 9 at Aviano Air Base in Aviano, Italy. The 700-plus troops waited in the state-of-the-art personnel...

  • Soldiers of the Vicenza, Italy-based 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team play cards while waiting to board an aircraft to deploy to Afghanistan Dec. 9 at Aviano Air Base in Aviano, Italy.  The 700-plus troops waited in the state-of-the-art personnel alert holding area, an Army-managed facilty at the air base.  Servicemembers can watch TV, nap or get a bite to eat in the temperature-controlled facilty while waiting for aircraft.

    Hundreds more 173rd ABCT Soldiers deploy to Afghanistan

    Soldiers of the Vicenza, Italy-based 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team play cards while waiting to board an aircraft to deploy to Afghanistan Dec. 9 at Aviano Air Base in Aviano, Italy. The 700-plus troops waited in the state-of-the-art personnel...

  • Soldiers of the Vicenza, Italy-based 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team change a tire on their aircraft before deploying to Afghanistan Dec. 9 from Aviano Air Base in Aviano, Italy. Air Force and Army personnel monitored and ensured the safety of the tire change while Soldiers provided the muscle.

    Hundreds more 173rd ABCT Soldiers deploy to Afghanistan

    Soldiers of the Vicenza, Italy-based 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team change a tire on their aircraft before deploying to Afghanistan Dec. 9 from Aviano Air Base in Aviano, Italy. Air Force and Army personnel monitored and ensured the safety of the...

  • Soldiers of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, based in Vicenza, Italy, grab a snack while waiting to deploy to Afghanistan out of Aviano Air Base in Aviano, Italy, Dec. 9, while Noel Parks, retired Air Force officer, points out cupcakes baked for the Soldiers by Air Force spouses.  Air Force retirees and spouses, part of Operation Yellow Ribbon, try to provide food and support for every group of deploying and redeploying servicemembers who process through Aviano.

    Hundreds more 173rd ABCT Soldiers deploy to Afghanistan

    Soldiers of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, based in Vicenza, Italy, grab a snack while waiting to deploy to Afghanistan out of Aviano Air Base in Aviano, Italy, Dec. 9, while Noel Parks, retired Air Force officer, points out cupcakes baked for...

  • A Soldier of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat team, based in Vicenza, Italy, loads baggage before deploying out of Aviano Air Base in Aviano, Italy, Dec. 9, while U.S. Air Force personnel monitor operations.

    Hundreds more 173rd ABCT Soldiers deploy to Afghanistan

    A Soldier of the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat team, based in Vicenza, Italy, loads baggage before deploying out of Aviano Air Base in Aviano, Italy, Dec. 9, while U.S. Air Force personnel monitor operations.

  • Soldiers of the Vicenza, Italy-based 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team board a plane to deploy to Afghanistan Dec. 9 at Aviano Air Base in Aviano, Italy, where Col. Erik Daiga, USAG Vicenza garrison commander, and other leaders farewelled some of the 700-plus troops as they boarded the aircraft.

    Hundreds more 173rd ABCT troops deploy to Afghanistan

    Soldiers of the Vicenza, Italy-based 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team board a plane to deploy to Afghanistan Dec. 9 at Aviano Air Base in Aviano, Italy, where Col. Erik Daiga, USAG Vicenza garrison commander, and other leaders farewelled some of the...

  • Soldiers of the Vicenza, Italy-based 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team board a plane to deploy to Afghanistan Dec. 9 at Aviano Air Base in Aviano Italy. Vicenza Deputy Garrison Commander James Walls (in blue), Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Hartless (middle) and Col. Erik Daiga (not pictured) traveled to Aviano to farewell some of the 700-plus troops who deployed.

    Hundreds more 173rd ABCT paratroopers head to Afghanistan

    Soldiers of the Vicenza, Italy-based 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team board a plane to deploy to Afghanistan Dec. 9 at Aviano Air Base in Aviano Italy. Vicenza Deputy Garrison Commander James Walls (in blue), Garrison Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey...

VICENZA, Italy - More than 700 Soldiers of the Vicenza, Italy-based 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team said goodbyes to their families and loaded onto planes destined for Afghanistan Dec. 9 in Italy.

Announced in July, the paratroopers' mission is to replace forces currently deployed to Afghanistan to maintain the capabilities of NATO's International Security Assistance Forces. They will be among the first American Soldiers to arrive in Afghanistan following President Barack Obama's announcement of a troop surge.

"The Soldiers are absolutely motivated and prepared to go," said Maj. Steven Williams, 173rd ABCT rear-detachment commander. "Their morale is high. They are prepared to fight and do what is expected of them."

The latest group of 173rd Soldiers to deploy followed several hundred of their fellow troopers who have departed Vicenza over the past weeks. The troops flew out of Aviano Air Base, Italy, where Army and Air Force airfield operations specialists coordinate to deploy and redeploy troops. The personnel alert holding area (PAHA) where Soldiers wait to board aircraft is located on Aviano Air Base, but is managed entirely by the Army.

Vicenza is the only garrison in Europe that provides full-spectrum deployment support operations, both to tenant units such as the 173rd, U.S. Army Africa forces and other units within its area of operation. The support begins at Vicenza with staging, marshalling and container movement, follows on to preparing troops and families for deployment and finishes when the last aircraft touches down at its destination. As soon as all personnel and materiel are accounted for, Vicenza personnel start planning for the redeployment, according to Greg Hutcheson, operations officer, Directorate of Logistics, USAG Vicenza.

In this case, the Soldiers received deployment support from Air Force members, and morale support from Air Force spouses and retirees at the PAHA. The troops were met by spouses and retirees taking part in Operation Yellow Ribbon. They provided a continual supply of foods and beverages, including homemade cupcakes and a roasted turkey for the 700-plus troops to snack on. The volunteers in the Aviano chapter of Operation Yellow Ribbon have served thousands of service members in the past five years and try to meet every aircraft, said Noel Parks, an Air Force retiree who volunteers with the organization.

The deploying Soldiers also chipped in to assist in deployment operations. Besides loading their own luggage, when one of the aircraft required a tire change, Soldiers helped carry and mount a spare, supervised and assisted by Air Force and Army specialists.

Page last updated Thu December 10th, 2009 at 10:19