NIAGARA FALLS AIR RESERVE STATION , NY--More than 700 family members, friends and officials turned out to say goodbye to 110 members of the New York Army National Guard's 105th Military Police Company here on Wednesday, March 9.

The Buffalo unit was the first New York Army National Guard unit deployed to Iraq in 2003 and as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and is now going back as part of Operation New Dawn, the U.S. draw down there. Ten Soldiers are returning with the unit for this second mission.

Staff Sgt. Douglas Mattingly, an employee with the Veterans Administration in Buffalo, was one of those Soldiers who deployed with the 105th in 2003.

It was a very difficult mission for but the unit accomplished a lot, Mattingly said about his first deployment. This new team of 105th MP Soldiers is going to perform very well too, he predicted.

The 105th led the way in during the first round of New York Army National Guard call-ups, and is leading the way again as the New York National Guard prepares to deploy almost 4,000 Soldiers over the next year-and-a-half, said Major General Patrick Murphy, the Adjutant General of New York.

The 105th's mission is to continue America's transition of security responsibilities to Iraqi police and military forces as the United State draws down its forces there. Unlike its first mission in 2003 of providing convoy security under combat conditions, the 105th will be focused on training and mentoring police in northern Iraq as their abilities grow, said Capt. John Vanlaningham, the company commander.

"I am the last person in the chain of command from New York that validates and certifies the training that Soldiers are ready to move on to the next phase," said General Murphy. "I do it with confidence for the 105th," he said.

"We have been preparing for this mission for the last 18 months," said VanLaningham, a former active duty sailor, and a New York State trooper from Syracuse.

He's proud to command a company that saw service in Bosnia in 1999-2000, at the World Trade Center in New York City following the terrorist attacks of 2001, in Iraq in 2003-4 in Operation Iraqi Freedom , Vanlaningham said.

"This is one of the first to deploy," he said. "And, it will be among the last. There is no rest for the best."

"For a lot of them it is a first-time deployment, but they're soldiers. Everybody has a first time somewhere," VanLaningham said. "And this is their chance to use their training,that they signed on to do. They signed on to make that difference."

"Our families are our life but unfortunately they are the ones who struggle the most with our absence," VanLaningham added. His mother, sisters and niece traveled from Colorado to attend the ceremony.

"My wife (Lisa) broke down a couple times but she is staying strong for the kids," said Staff Sgt. John Anstey, a squad leader from Holley, NY . "That's probably the hardest part, leaving the kids; leaving the kids behind."

Melissa Albanese wife of Spc. Michael Albanese said "I'm not prepared for it," said Melissa Albanese, the wife of Spec. Michael Albanese. "It's going to be tough without him," the Williamsville, NY resident said.

Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, is home to the Air Force Reserve's 914th Wing and the New York Air National Guard's 107th Air Wing. It's also where the 105th returned home in 2004 after its first deployment.

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