By Staff Sgt. Jon Cupp.1st Cav. Div. Public AffairsJune 23, 2008
FORT HOOD, Texas- The last 4th "Long Knife" Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division main body flight took off from Fort Hood, Texas without a hitch this past week carrying its passengers to a 15-month deployment in Iraq.
The nearly 60 Long Knife Soldiers from the 2nd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment onboard the June 16 flight to Kuwait will be conducting various combat skills training to include weapon ranges before moving from Camp Buehring, Kuwait to Iraq.
The flight marked the last large push of 4th BCT troops to the combat zone for their deployment to Operation Iraqi Freedom Rotation 08-10, meaning that nearly every one of the 4th BCT's Soldiers have boots on the ground overseas.
With the last main body departure, only a small trail flight of a handful of Long Knife troops remains and will follow the other more than 3,500 4th BCT Soldiers to Kuwait sometime within the next week.
Although getting troops onto a plane might seem like an easy enough job, according to Portland, Texas native Capt. Dion Williams, battalion human resource management officer for the 4th BCT's 2nd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, getting his battalion's Soldiers scheduled for flights, manifested and deployed has been no small task.
"There's a lot of planning and coordination with higher headquarters and subordinate units, making sure that we have good accountability and the right amount of deployable personnel to get the mission done," said Williams, who was on this last main body flight. "There's a large logistical piece to this, working with timelines and making sure things are fluid and flexible."
"One of our goals was ensuring that we have proper planning procedures in place in the event we have to react to a change and you're ready for it," added Williams, explaining that in the event a plane flight has to be cancelled or rescheduled or there's a large delay, preparations have to be made for the Soldiers so that they are taken care of.
Some of those preparations include making sure food and other things are available in the event Soldiers have to stay longer than intended while waiting for a flight.
Although getting the Soldiers ready and on the flights was a monumental undertaking, everything worked out successfully, according to Williams, who said he and the troops are excited about starting to work in Iraq.
"I'm really excited about it," Williams said. "This will be a good experience for me and all the Soldiers-everyone-has been looking forward to going over there, doing their duty and coming back home safe."
Along with Williams, another Soldier who deployed with the last main body flight was Spc. Corey Maier, a tanker with Troop D, 2nd Squadron, 7th Cavalry Regiment, who hails from Titusville, Fla.
For Maier, the departure marks his first time leaving for the combat zone.
After manifesting for the flight and checking his carry-on bag to make sure it met the plane's size guidelines, Maier reflected on his departure.
"I feel like I've been in garrison for a long time," said Maier. "I'm trained up and ready to get to the mission and then get back home to my family."
Maier, who has a fiancAfA back at home, said he feels confident and competent about his skills after going through realistic training scenarios and multiple field problems at the Joint Readiness Training Center in Fort Polk, La. and the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.
"(Going into combat) is not something that everyone gets to do-getting to fight for their country," said Maier. "I'm proud to be a part of this and I've got a lot of loved ones at home who are proud of me and look forward to me getting back home."
In contrast to Maier, Cpl. Mark Robinson, also a Troop D tanker and gunner on a tank crew, is a veteran of one previous deployment to Iraq.
A Fort Worth, Texas native, Robinson, who looks forward to making some extra money during the deployment and will be leaving the Army service once OIF 08-10 is over, has one major concern on his mind-making sure his Soldiers make it home alive.
"It's my job as a noncommissioned officer to mentor and teach, watching out for the young Soldiers out there," he said. "They've been trained but I'm going to make sure they're doing the right thing and not being complacent. I'm going to help them learn how to watch each other's backs."
The 4th BCT's training at Camp Buehring, Kuwait should continue throughout the rest of June and into early July, and all of the brigade's Soldiers should be in Iraq by mid-July.