WEST COLUMBIA, S.C. - The 678th Air Defense Battalion, South Carolina Army National Guard, headquartered in Eastover, South Carolina, held a deploying and casing of the colors ceremony, Feb. 1, 2018.
Approximately 50 Soldiers are deploying to Texas for validation prior to departing to support U.S. Army Europe with the 10th Army Air Missile Defense Command for Operation Atlantic Resolve.
"You are making history as the first Air Defense Artillery Brigade in Europe since the drawdown of the Cold War," said U.S. Army Col. Richard Wholey, commander 678th Air Defense Artillery Brigade. "The fact this brigade was chosen is a testament to your leadership, professionalism, and sound reputation."
The Adjutant General for South Carolina, U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston, Jr., thanked the families for their continued support of their Soldiers and shared with the attendees the importance of the unit's mission.
"Our nation has continued to deal with and respond to the situations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and the Korean Peninsula," said Livingston. "This deployment of the 678th Air Defense Artillery demonstrates a proactive approach and a resolve to deter aggression and prevent war."
Also joining the hundreds of family and friends at the ceremony was a special guest, Dawn Staley, coach of the University of South Carolina's women's basketball team.
"While I can't begin to compare what you are about to do in the military overseas to sports, one thing we share is we have to know our opponents, their strengths and weaknesses," said Staley. "Preparation is always key. South Carolina will pray for you and your families to stay safe and healthy and for your return home."
The ceremony included award presentations and a promotion, as well as the traditional casing the brigade colors. The casing of the unit colors is a military tradition signifying the unit's readiness for deployment before departure.
"My job is to ensure our Soldiers are properly prepared to execute their mission and ultimately return home safely," said Wholey. "I do not take this responsibility lightly."
The Soldiers sang the "Army Song" at the conclusion of the ceremony and then joined their loved ones for one final unit gathering before being released to prepare to mobilize.
"We are Task Force Vanguard, for freedom we defend," added Wholey.