JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. - Brig. Gen. Craig Johnson, South Dakota Army National Guard's assistant adjutant general, welcomed six out-of-state soldiers into the 129th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment for a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan by placing the coyote patch on their left sleeves while at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J., March 9.

"The patch symbolizes one team, one fight," said Johnson. "It builds strength within the organization, resiliency, unity and comradeship to be able to do the mission."

The mission of the 129th MPAD is to tell the military's story through print and broadcast journalism and embedded civilian media.

"The 129th was short a few personnel to be able to deploy to Afghanistan," said Maj. Robert Asscherick, commander of the 129th. "We put positions in the Tour of Duty system and these soldiers were dedicated enough to apply for those positions and take time away from their families to deploy with strangers to a strange land."

The Tour of Duty system advertises active duty opportunities. Its Internet site allows members of the National Guard and Army Reserve find and volunteer for active duty tours.

The soldiers who received the coyote patch today were: Sgt. Brittany Armstrong from Eugene, Ore.; Sgt. Joshua Edwards from Summerville, S.C.; Staff Sgt. Jerry Saslav from Framingham, Mass.; Spc. Ryan Scott from Gilroy, Calif.; Spc. Margaret Taylor from Alexandria, Va.; and Sgt. Anita VanderMolen from Salem, Ore.

"I felt very welcomed and very proud to be a part of this South Dakota unit," said VanderMolen. "I felt like arms were welcoming me in."

"It is highly important to me to make them feel at home," said Asscherick. "Today, this patch ceremony helps them feel like they are a part of the unit."

Page last updated Fri March 29th, 2013 at 16:59