NY Guard Soldiers deploy to Cuba mission
Soldiers of the New York Army National Guard's 107th Military Police Company stand in formation during their deployment ceremony June 17, 2011, at the State University of New York Institute of Technology.

UTICA, N.Y., June 22, 2011 -- The New York Army National Guard's 107th Military Police Company has a rich, centuries-old heritage of worldwide service defending America, and now they're preparing to do it again -- at Guantanamo Bay Naval Base, Cuba.

"This deployment is another in long line of honorable ones for this company," 107th Military Police Company Commander Capt. Chris Marion said at the unit's send-off ceremony, held here June 17, 2011, at the State University of New York, or SUNY, Institute of Technology. The unit, which left after the ceremony, will train at for Fort Bliss, Texas, before spending a year guarding the detention center at the naval base.

Family, friends and well-wishers, along with New York Army National Guard and government leaders, attended the ceremony in the institute's Campus Center. Before recounting the unit's heritage to those assembled at the ceremony, Marion said the company is very young, in terms of experience.

However, the company's platoon sergeants and squad leaders have combat experience, he added.

"They'll be leading the Soldiers," Marion said of the platoon sergeants and squad leaders. "Our overseas experience will be passed onto the Soldiers, and they'll also get all the training they need."

The Utica-based unit received notice of the deployment about a year ago, Marion said. Since then, the company's ranks swelled from about 70 to 170 Soldiers, he added.

The Soldiers hail from all over New York, including Auburn, Hornell, Latham, Queens and Utica, he said.

"We've drawn Soldiers from all across our battalion to make this unit," Marion said.

Their preparations for the deployment began when they were notified and included three weeks of intensive pre-mobilization training at Fort Drum, N.Y., Marion said.

"We're a new unit, but we've come together very quickly and professionally," he said.

Sgt. 1st Class Paul McKinney, the company's 2nd Platoon sergeant, deployed with the unit for Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm in 1990 and 1991. The unit guarded Iraqi prisoners of war captured during that war, said McKinney.

He also has 27 years of military police experience with the Army and Marines, and has been a village of Mohawk police officer for 21 years, McKinney said. While other Soldiers in the unit also have law enforcement or corrections experience, the deployment will be learning experience for the younger Soldiers, he added.

"It'll be a good environment for them to learn and grow," McKinney said.

The unit performed security duties in New York City following the 9/11 attacks, he said. They saw the beginnings of the global war on terror, and now they're part of the response.

"For many in the company, this is their first deployment, and they're looking forward to contributing to the overall effort," McKinney said.

Page last updated Thu June 23rd, 2011 at 07:11