Capt. Leah Wicks, 209th Military Police Company commander, rolls the unit colors with the help of 1st Sgt. David Cantu.

FORT POLK, La. " Goodbyes and farewells are a difficult part of the military lifestyle as warriors prepare to join the fight overseas. The 209th Military Police Company, 519th Military Police Battalion, 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, cased its colors Aug. 9 at the 1st MEB Gym during a deployment ceremony before leaving Fort Polk later that evening. Spouses, Family members, children and friends were in attendance, offering their steadfast support.
Lt. Col. David Detz, 519th MP Bn commander, provided words of support not only for Families, but also for the Soldiers embarking on their mission.
"What is the significance of having the ceremony today? What you're witnessing is the next step of the many honors this company has earned. Today's ceremony not only honors these warriors, but also tells of a change of vision for these Soldiers. The training is over and the next time they use it will be in a hostile combat zone. This is the next step in the story of the 209th MP Company. We're honoring this unit, these Soldiers and you Families," he said.
"To the Families " we thank you for everything you do to allow these Soldiers to do what they do. We know that when they signed up, you signed up as a team. We thank you for that support," Detz said.
Detz asked Families to stand, "clap your hands, stomp your feet" and cheer for the Soldiers who were preparing to depart Fort Polk to represent their country.
The 209th MP Co deploys to Afghanistan to provide police mentorship training, meaning they will be working with the Afghan National Police. They will not only provide training on the tactical side with joint patrols and checkpoints, but also teach the ANP how to run a patrol schedule, train new recruits and other police force tasks.
"They will train the Afghan police force to operate in small areas, link in with other police force elements and work in conjunction with combat arms units," Detz said.
Detz offered his complete confidence in the unit. "They completed their (Joint Readiness Training Center) rotation and had the chance to train with the Operations Group. They had additional time in live-fire exercises and weapons training during a rotation with a Special Forces unit. We had the chance to piggyback off their rotation," he said.
Capt. Leah Wicks, commander of the 209th MP Co, also expressed her confidence. "We received some of the best training out there and have an outstanding group of Soldiers. I'm extremely confident in our Soldiers and the mission and we are ready to go," she said.
This will be the first combat deployment for Spc. Grant Auch, who deployed to Haiti in support of Operation Unified Response after the 2010 earthquake that rocked the nation. "I've been waiting so long for it. This is what I joined to do. I now have the chance to give back to the country and to the Army," he said.
Auch's spouse, Adriana, said she was ready too. "This has been hanging over our heads for a while. It's kind of a relief now. We've been waiting and now, once they leave, we can start counting the days until they're home," she said. "I'll be writing letters, sending packages and doing any form of communication I can with him while he's gone."
Samantha Giffing, spouse of Spc. Matthew Giffing, is also facing her husband's first deployment. "I'm definitely feeling a little sad. I'll be supporting him through care packages and (looking after) things at home," she said.
"Since Sept. 11, 2001, when we were attacked, we've been at war. For a lot of these Soldiers, they were not in the Army at that point and they had a choice. What these Soldiers have done is decided they would stand up and be counted," Detz said. "They wanted to be a part of something special. They stood up and said 'count me.' They said, 'I don't care what else going on. I'm not worried about the millions of folks who won't do this job. I want to represent my country. I want to fight for this freedom.' That is what they represent today. They represent the best of what society has to offer. These are America's heroes."

Page last updated Fri August 19th, 2011 at 00:00