Soldiers of the 1-244th Assault Helicopter Battalion sing the Army Song during a deployment ceremony at the Army Aviation Support Facility #1 in Hammond, Louisiana, Dec. 2, 2023. Over 70 Soldiers will deploy to Kosovo to support a NATO-led peacekeeping mission. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Quinlin Creech)
Soldiers of the 1-244th Assault Helicopter Battalion sing the Army Song during a deployment ceremony at the Army Aviation Support Facility #1 in Hammond, Louisiana, Dec. 2, 2023. Over 70 Soldiers will deploy to Kosovo to support a NATO-led peacekeeping mission. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Spc. Quinlin Creech) (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

NEW ORLEANS – The Louisiana Army National Guard’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Assault Helicopter Battalion, 244th Aviation Regiment, bid farewell to family and friends during a departure ceremony at the Army Aviation Support Facility #1 in Hammond Dec. 2.

“Although you may be apprehensive and nervous, I see a spark in each of you. By the end of this deployment, your knowledge base will have grown, your confidence to make decisions will have grown, and you will be performing at a level above your current rank,” said Lt. Col. Edwin Reliford, battalion commander. “You are the future of the battalion.”

The more than 70 Soldiers with the 1-244th will conduct mobilization training at Fort Cavazos, Texas, to hone skills before deploying to Kosovo to support a NATO-led peacekeeping mission.

“Sergeant Major [Command Sgt. Maj. Reginald Gagnard, senior enlisted leader of the 1-244th Assault Helicopter Battalion] and I have instilled certain values in you; the values of family, teamwork, that we never do anything alone, and to look after one another,” Reliford told the deploying Soldiers. “We instilled these values for a reason. These values will lead you through the long days and cold nights.”

Maj. Gen. Keith Waddell, adjutant general of the Louisiana National Guard, told the Soldiers the key to a successful deployment is teamwork and self-care.

“To the Soldiers that are deploying, thank you for being a part of the 1% of the United States’ population that serves our country who took an oath to support and defend our country against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” Waddell said.

Waddell thanked the families and employers for their dedication and sacrifices they will make while the Soldiers are away.

“You are the backbone of the unit,” said Waddell. “You’re the true unsung heroes of the Louisiana National Guard. Please know that you are always valued and always appreciated.”

The 1-244th Assault Helicopter Battalion has served. on multiple overseas deployments and domestic emergency response missions the past few decades.

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