By Maj. Audrey Matthews, 177th Armored Brigade Public Affairs April 16, 2013
CAMP SHELBY, Miss. -- Congresswoman Madeline Bordallo received a warm welcome from the Soldiers of 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment, Guam Army National Guard during a recent visit to observe their mobilization training prior to their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.
The Soldiers of 1-294th arrived at Camp Shelby in early March to begin their mobilization training. Bordallo's visit came at the perfect time; the troops were wrapping up their training when she arrived.
After talking with Maj. Gen. Kevin Wendel, First Army Division East commanding general, and Col. Dale Kuehl, 177th Armored Brigade commander, Bordallo said she was pleased with the training First Army Division East is providing her Soldiers.
"I appreciated the opportunity to meet with so many of our young men and women from Guam who are preparing to deploy to Afghanistan--the largest deployment of our Guam Guardsmen in history," she said.
Bordallo surprised her Soldiers with gifts from Guam including more than 600 bags of Guguria cookies, one for each Soldier. She also presented the unit's leaders Lt. Col. Michael Tougher and Command Sgt. Maj. Melchor Hennegan the Guam flag to take with them to Afghanistan.
The unit made a positive impression on their First Army Division East trainers as well.
"The unit is very disciplined," said Kuehl. "This is the first unit we've seen who arrived after a long flight and immediately began conducting pre-combat checks on their equipment."
During her visit, Bordallo observed the unit's after action review of their culminating training exercise. The event allowed the Soldiers to reflect on things they did well and also those things they need to improve.
"I learned about their preparations and their confidence in being able to carry out and accomplish their missions. Their morale is high, and they remain confident in their abilities," Bordallo said.
Bordallo addressed the group at the end of the AAR and told them how proud she was of them.
"I expressed to them the pride our entire island community has in them," Bordallo said. "I will continue to keep these brave men and women in my prayers, and I join our island in wishing them, and all our Servicemembers who are serving overseas, a safe return home."
Bordallo has made a total of 14 trips to both Iraq and Afghanistan while serving in Congress.
The 177th Ar Bde, part of First Army Division East, mobilizes, trains, validates and deploys Reserve Component units to support overseas military operations. First Army Division East ensures mobilization training is relevant, realistic and reflects the most current conditions Soldiers will face in theater.
First Army Division East directly supports the Chief of Staff of the Army's priority of providing trained, equipped and ready forces to win the current fight, while maintaining responsiveness for unforeseen contingencies.