164th TAOG deploys to Middle East
Spc. Wallin Shea, 164th TAOG operations specialist, spends time with his wife, Lindsay, and their 4-month old daughter, Lianna, Oct. 7 before his unit departs for a six-month deployment in the Middle East.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Saying goodbye to Family and friends isn't easy for the Soldiers of the 164th Theater Operations Airfield Group, even when it's for a shorter time than usual.

The remaining deployable members of 164th TAOG deployed Oct. 7 from Cairns Army Airfield. The Soldiers will spend approximately six months in the Middle East providing oversight, technical expertise and standardization for units in Afghanistan, Kuwait and Iraq.

The Soldiers will link up with Col. Joseph R. Macklin, Air Traffic Service Command and 164th TAOG commander, who is currently deployed in Kuwait. The unit is providing support for Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn.

"The presence in Iraq is going to be much less this time than in the past," said Lt. Col. Terry Meyer, 164th TAOG rear detachment commander. "The mission has not necessarily changed, it's grown. What we're doing this time is sending forward only the team that we needed to conduct the mission there and preserve the headquarters back here. We've added additional airfield operations battalions, so now the command and control requirements for 164th TAOG have increased.

"They are definitely ready to go," he said. "They've been well trained and are well-led."

Capt. Michael DeStefano, 164th TAOG Headquarters and Headquarters Company commander, is in charge of the deploying unit. He said this is his third deployment and is glad the unit will have only six months away from home this time.

"My last deployment was for about 15 months, so this is a welcome change," he said. "We're definitely ready to get over there and do what we've been trained to do."

Some Family members of the Soldiers are happy this deployment is shorter.

"I'm doing better this time, but it's still hard," said Amber Smith, spouse of Sgt. Adam Smith, 164th TAOG S2. "We tried to spend as much time together as a Family as possible."

Maj. Ellie Vance, 164th TAOG communications officer, and her husband Sgt. 1st Class Jerry Vance, Noncommissioned Officer Academy, celebrated their 16th wedding anniversary by saying goodbye. However, the couple said the separation is nothing new to them or all that distressing.

"This is my second time deploying," Ellie said. "It's a lot shorter than my first time and I don't think it'll be too bad. We've got a really good communication system worked out so I should be able to talk to him just about every day."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16