By CourtesyJanuary 22, 2020
Members of the 207th Regional Support Group gathered at Hilton Field on Fort Jackson, South Carolina, to bid parents, siblings, spouses and children a final farewell before they deploy in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.
"This by far is the largest sendoff that I have ever attended," said Brig. Gen. Pamela L. McGaha, commander of the 143rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary). "I know the Soldiers of the 207th Regional Support Group are absolutely uplifted today by this enormous show of support."
More than 50 Soldiers stood tall on the field as the 207th RSG Commander Col. Jerome Jackson and Command Sgt. Maj. David Douthat cased the group's "colors" to signify the beginning of the unit's deployment. While this deployment is the first of 2019 for the group, they are no stranger to deployments. The 207th RSG has deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom as well as various training missions to Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.
While the location of their deployments may have changed throughout the years, their mission has not. Their first priority is to provide base support. The unit provides the daily support a forward operating base requires to sustain life and comfort for troops stationed there. This support includes dining facility operations, laundry and bath services, gyms, fuel and ammunition stations and infrastructure needs such as water, electricity and environmental control.
"We will be responsible for base life support," said Lt. Col. Craig Roberts, Base Operations System Integrator. "We will be supporting coalition and U.S. Armed Forces."
For some of the unit's members, this will be their first deployment in support of any operation. While they may not have the experience of multiple deployments, many of their fellow unit members do and have been sharing their experiences to help prepare their teammates for the environment they are likely to experience.
"I will share experiences, both good and bad, so they can prepare themselves mentally, physically and spiritually," Roberts said. He has the experience of six deployments throughout his military career. He also said that ensuring Family members are prepared and taken care of can help ensure a Soldier's well being and peace of mind during deployment. "That's where I come in," he added, "I want Families to know I have their loved ones now and I will take care of them."
To further help connect Soldiers and their Families, leadership held Family Day activities after the ceremony at Weston Lake so Families could enjoy an afternoon of food, games, dancing and arts and crafts.
"I expect to meet some of my battle buddies' Families," said Capt. Justin Williams, Assistant Group Judge Advocate "I've heard a lot about them and will finally be able to fellowship with them."
Hot dogs and hamburgers were grilled to perfection and served with all the side trimmings as children played on the large play system of climbing walls, slides and bridges. Children were encouraged to come dressed in costume to partake in the trunk-or-treat and paint pumpkins to take home as keepsakes and holiday decorations. A large trailer filled with a wall of monitors and gaming systems were offered to older children who could pick from a wide variety of games.
Also a small, intimate ceremony was held to promote several Soldiers in front of their Families and friends. Old ranks were thrown in the air after being removed from the promotee's chest, signifying the hope they never return to their previous rank. Each was presented with headgear bearing their newly earned rank.
"It was really good to see how many people could come out and celebrate," said Staff Sgt. LaRanda Boone, operations non-commissioned officer, assistant to operations and mission planning. "I'm fairly new to this unit, so I have been meeting new people over the last several months so it's good to meet their Families and know a little of their backgrounds."
The Soldiers and their Families spent the last of the day enjoying time with each other until the weather turned cool and gray.
The 207th RSG will travel in the coming week to Fort Hood, Texas, to begin Soldier Readiness Processing. There, the unit will complete all necessary paperwork, medical appointments and training prior to boarding aircraft to join their counterparts and coalition forces currently supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.