FORT BLISS, Texas - The 420th Military Police Company, 508th Military Police Battalion, U.S. Army Reserve, deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, from the Arrival/Departure Air Control Group, here, April 8. The unit, headquartered in Salt Lake City, Utah, will be conducting detainee operations at Gitmo.
Spc. Courtney A. Cole, from Clearfield, Utah, reflected on her upcoming first deployment.
"I'm excited because it will give me a good opportunity when I get back because I'll have the experience of working with detainees," said Cole. When she returns from her deployment, she will be 21 years old, which is the age required to apply for work at a detention facility.
First Lt. Katie E. Craft, a platoon leader, also looked forward to her first deployment. Craft is originally from Mechanicville, N.Y., but currently works as a paralegal in Baltimore.
"I'm really ready to get there," Craft said. "I think it's a really good mission for MPs and I'm glad this is my first [deployment]. For an MP it's definitely a good mission to have under your belt."
Craft looked forward to the hands-on experience she would receive. She was also appreciative of the mobilization experience at Fort Bliss. "The training was tailored specifically to our mission in Gitmo, so we weren't doing IED lanes like we would normally do going to Afghanistan. They used our time wisely," said Craft.
The 420th MP Company Commander 1st Lt. Geffrey "JJ" Lynn Gabriel, Jr., from Hyde Park, Utah, was confident his Soldiers were ready for the unit's first deployment, after receiving extensive training, here.
"It was a good chance to get down and do some detainee-ops training with the whole company," said Gabriel. "I think it's the perfect mission for our type of company and it would be a good opportunity for the guys to work together. I'm really impressed with everybody we have; especially the individual reservists who integrated into our unit. We've got a great bunch of Soldiers."
When the 420th MP Company arrived at the A/DACG, two Soldiers raised everyone's spirits when they became impromptu deejays. Sgt. Dustin C. Loveland, from Cedar City, Utah, and Spc. Logan M. Scott, from Powdersville, S.C., utilized a sound system and cell phone to play music for the unit.
Although the mood was light, the overall tone was professional.
As departure time approached, the Soldiers' thoughts turned toward home.
"I'm very focused on the mission, but I wouldn't be where I am today without my family and my friends' support," Craft said. "I have been gone a lot the past three years for training, so it's really good to have a good support base back home.
"I'll be thinking about [my family], but even if I don't get to talk to them, I still love everybody," stated Cole.
"We appreciate all the support [our families] gives us," said 1st Lt. Gabriel. "Thanks for everything - we will be back as quick as we can."