FORT POLK, La. — A deployment ceremony for Warrior medics with the Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk’s 115th Field Hospital, 32nd Hospital Center, was held May 6 at 11:30 a.m.
Brig. Gen. Patrick D. Frank, commander, JRTC and Fort Polk, and Col. Lee Burnett, commander, 32nd HC, were guest speakers. Due to COVID-19 social-distancing and mask requirements, Families and fellow Soldiers were not in attendance.
The 115th FH will participate in CENTCOM’s area of responsibility as part of Task Force Evacuare.
Burnett spoke first and thanked the Soldiers in the formation for heeding their country’s call.
“Today you head overseas to support our fellow Soldiers and civilians as they endeavor to provide peace and security,” he said.
Burnett said that in just a matter of weeks, the Soldiers deploying have undergone what would normally take months of preparation.
“I’d like to recognize that every Soldier here, to a person, whether the most junior enlisted or the most senior officer, willingly and proudly accepted this assignment,” he said.
Burnett specifically highlighted the leadership shown by Lt. Col. Jason Marquart and Sgt. 1st Class Erik Regalado.
“When this mission came down, they both immediately stepped forward and took on this challenge,” he said. “Every day they put their Soldiers and mission first. I am thankful we have such professional leaders and rest easy knowing our Soldiers are guided by this stellar team.”
Burnett also recognized the 1st Medical Brigade, the JRTC and Fort Polk, and the JRTC G3 team for their unwavering support and laser focus on the task force’s success.
Burnett, who is slated to PCS during the summer and will not be at JRTC and Fort Polk when the TF Evacuare returns, took a moment to thank Marquart for his support.
“Since day one you’ve had a clear vision to ensure the entire hospital was trained and ready to take on any mission,” he said. “You developed our young leaders and built this team into a hospital that has proven itself time and again — from our validation exercise at JRTC to the 115th MEDEX at NTC (National Training Center).”
Burnett said that proven track record is why Forces Command has recognized the 115th FH as the most-trained and ready hospital in the Army.
“That’s why FORSCOM went to us first for Hurricane Dorian response, first for KFOR (Kosovo Force), and now first for CENTCOM — and not for just one task force, but two. That’s unheard of. I cannot think of any other unit that has taken on more missions in more locations.”
In closing, Burnett thanked the Soldiers for their dedication and devotion, as well as the Family members who were unable to attend.
“Each Soldier and Family member is making a personal sacrifice to ensure the success of this important mission,” he said. “Some have temporarily put off school; others extended their service in the Army. You are a testament to our shared Army Values: Loyalty, duty, respect, selfless-service, honor, integrity and personal courage. You inspire me. I know you will do us proud and represent our country well.”
Frank was next to address the deploying Soldiers. He said when he looked at the formation, he thought he was looking at a brigade combat team.
“That’s how tough you look,” he said. “If Geronimo — our world class OPFOR — were out there, they usually attack targets they think are soft targets. They would walk away from you.”
Frank said the nation, Army and CENTCOM needed the Soldiers of the 115th FH, to go into theater and help U.S. service members and civilians.
“All of you are medical providers,” he said. “You’re all volunteers. This is an incredible formation. You couldn’t be deploying with a better team.
If I was going to be in a field hospital setting, I’d want to be with this one.” Frank said he couldn’t be prouder of the 115th FH’s Soldiers.
“I want to be in your formation,” he said. “I don’t think there is anything a Soldier can tell another Soldier that is more a point of pride than, ‘I want to be in your formation.’ That’s how much I respect you and the job you’ve done to get ready for this mission.”
Lt. Col. Jason Marquart, commander of the 115th FH, said the team would be not only supporting service members, but doing battle with COVID-19 — a new enemy they’ve not seen before.
“Fortunately, we have highly-trained medical people in our Army that are always ready and willing, so this deployment is a good opportunity to take these people and combine them in a time of need, just like we would do here in the United States,” he said. “We will provide excellent care for anyone who needs it.”
The 115th FH is unique in that many of the officers that make up the unit are assigned to hospitals throughout the U.S. to keep up their technical skills. The augmentees for the current deployment come from San Antonio and Fort Gordon, Georgia.
“When the time comes, these individuals, within 72 hours, left their homes, moved here and were prepared to go,” Marquart said. “With the help of the team here at Fort Polk, they were completely mission-ready in a short time. This is truly a rapid deployment.”
Sgt. 1st Class Lorianne Flippo has deployed before, but this is her first time with a Family.
“I didn’t have a husband and daughter the first time,” she said.
Flippo said it is an honor to serve and she wants to make her husband and daughter proud.
“My daughter just turned 2, so I don’t think she understands, but we gave a lot of hugs this morning (May 6), and I hope to see her soon on FaceTime or some other mode,” she said. “At least we have that now.”