• Shelby Hurd and her husband, Staff Sgt. Dean Hurd, 75th Fires Brigade, embrace each other moments before Hurd boarded a bus en route to the U.S. Central Command's area of operations, Dec. 16. The 75th Fires Brigade deployed to the region as a Force Field Artillery Headquarters where it will operate as a command-and-control element for surface-to-surface units.

    Goodbyes

    Shelby Hurd and her husband, Staff Sgt. Dean Hurd, 75th Fires Brigade, embrace each other moments before Hurd boarded a bus en route to the U.S. Central Command's area of operations, Dec. 16. The 75th Fires Brigade deployed to the region as a Force...

  • Pvt. Nichole Dockery, 75th Fires Brigade awards clerk, is visibly emotional as she watches her fellow Soldiers depart for a deployment to the U.S. Central Command's area of operations Dec. 16. The 'Tough As Diamonds' brigade is scheduled to serve as a Force Field Artillery Headquarters.

    Comrades

    Pvt. Nichole Dockery, 75th Fires Brigade awards clerk, is visibly emotional as she watches her fellow Soldiers depart for a deployment to the U.S. Central Command's area of operations Dec. 16. The 'Tough As Diamonds' brigade is scheduled to serve as a...

  • Sgt. David Para, 75th Fires Brigade chief surveyor, holds the cased U.S. flag and brigade colors during an identification tags and identification card inspection prior to departing for a deployment to the U.S. Central Command's area of operations Dec. 16. The unit will assume the role of a Force Field Artillery Headquarters.

    Deployment

    Sgt. David Para, 75th Fires Brigade chief surveyor, holds the cased U.S. flag and brigade colors during an identification tags and identification card inspection prior to departing for a deployment to the U.S. Central Command's area of operations Dec...

FORT SILL, Okla. -- A somber tone filled the atmosphere around the headquarters building of 75th Fires Brigade Dec. 16 as Soldiers, their comrades, and family members gathered together.

Many of them shared laughter, words of encouragement, and memories of their time training together for this moment. Some children, spouses and service members were touched deeply by the events of the day -- insomuch that they shed tears together.

The 'Tough As Diamonds' family said goodbye to each other as they prepared to depart to the U.S. Central Command's area of operations. There, the unit will assume the role of a Force Field Artillery Headquarters.

The brigade prepared for the deployment with a three-month notice but did not waiver in its stateside mission while transitioning for the deployment.

The unit's calm response can be attributed to the brigade commander, Col. Alfredo Najera, who consistently instilled a mindset in his Soldiers to always maintain a high level of readiness.

"This is going back to pre '9-11' days where readiness was a constant," said Najera.

He added the Soldiers proved they could do it.

The Soldiers have various degrees of experience as forward deployed troops. For some, such as Sgt. David Para, it marked the third time he deployed in service to his country, but his first as a member with responsibilities at the brigade level.

Para said because this is a lot of the Soldiers' first time deploying it will provide the opportunity to continue to develop and learn as a unit.

Although the Soldiers believe they will be OK on the possibly year-long deployment, the bond that has been formed between the Soldiers, their comrades and their loved ones proved to be strong.

"It's not going to be the same," said a teary-eyed Pvt. Nichole Dockery as she fought to maintain her composure.

When asked what the difference would be, she simply stated.

"Everybody's not going to be here."

To the families who attended the unit's deployment and colors casing ceremony, Najera offered the following:

"There are three things that I know for sure: No. 1, I know the families will be taken care of. Two, I know they'll [the Soldiers] take care of each other. And three, I know they [the Soldiers] will professionally accomplish their mission and return home to their families with honor."

Page last updated Tue December 18th, 2012 at 00:00