By 1st Lt. Christopher Rossi, 1st Battalion, 14th Field ArtilleryMay 28, 2015
FORT SILL, Okla. (May 28, 2015) -- The final contingent of deploying Soldiers from B Battery, 1st Battalion, 14th Field Artillery, were bid farewell during a May 20 ceremony at Rinehart Fitness Center here.
More than 100 Soldiers will travel to Kuwait to establish partnerships with Kuwaiti artillery forces in support of Operation Spartan Shield. As well as, if called upon, provide surface-to-surface High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) fires in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility, said Capt. Jesse Hodge, B Battery commander.
Families, friends and community leaders attended with a farewell address given by the Col. Andrew Preston, 214th Fires Brigade. Declaring his confidence in the unit and their mission, Preston wished his troops a safe return.
The tentative nine-month assignment is but a part of the unit's deployment cycle, having recently deployed several sections from A Battery to Afghanistan, Preston added. Additionally, some of the Soldiers in this formation have served together in this very battery during the battalion's deployment to the United Arab Emirates in 2013.
"It is very special for me in my career to take part in two sequential deployments as the first sergeant of the Bravo 'Blackhorse' battery," said 1st Sgt. Michael McLaughlin, the top enlisted Soldier in the unit. "I consider it an immense honor and a true privilege to be given this rare opportunity."
McLaughlin spoke of the long road Soldiers took to prepare for the deployment, and for his pride in all they have accomplished.
"Through training opportunities such as the HIMARS rapid infiltration exercise to Fort Carson, Colo., we have finely tuned our capability to deliver timely and accurate rocket and missile fires," he said. "I'm very confident in these Soldiers."
The faith McLaughlin has for his troops has also been adopted by several of the section chiefs within the battery. One in particular is Sgt. Kimo Odom, the platoon operations center's fire direction cell chief, who previously deployed with the unit under the leadership of McLaughlin.
"My Soldiers are trained and ready, I am extremely confident in the competency of my crew. There is no doubt in my mind that as a team we can and will successfully accomplish any mission thrown our way," said Odom.
Odom continued to comment on his longevity with the unit: "I am so very thankful to be deploying with this battery again. The lasting relationships that I have created with some of my peers are absolutely irreplaceable and a blessing."
The hard work and dedication of the "Blackhorse" Battery has not gone unnoticed, especially by Lt. Col. Peter Sittenauer, 1-14th FA commander. Sittenauer, who has commanded the battalion since March has ensured these deploying Soldiers have received the proper training and support needed to accomplish their mission at hand.
"I am extremely confident in Bravo battery's readiness for this mission. For the past several months, this battery underwent several training events that occurred in the field, in the classroom, in virtual simulators and in situational exercises," he said. "Just a few months ago the battery that we are deploying was formed from each unit within our battalion. To see their transformation into a highly motivated, trained and tightknit group is just awesome. I know that they also have a lot of confidence in each other. Based on all of the hard work they've done to prepare, the Soldiers of this task force have a lot to be proud of."