By Spc. Peter C. Jun, 361st PAOCDecember 8, 2009
EAST WINDSOR, Conn. (Dec. 8, 2009) - Approximately 60 local Army Reserve Soldiers from the 334th Quartermaster Battalion and their families gathered Nov. 29 at the BG John W. Middleton United States Army Reserve Center here for a farewell ceremony to recognize the servicemembers as they head out on a year-long deployment to Iraq. The ceremony marked the beginning of a journey for the 334th QM BN Soldiers which starts at Fort Dix, NJ, where they will conduct mobilization training and prepare for their overseas mission. While deployed, the servicemembers will provide logistics support to U.S. Armed Forces within an assigned area of operation in Iraq. Col. Stephen J. Falcone, commander of the 655th Regional Support Group, addressed the Soldiers and their families - stressing the importance of 334th's mission. "The farewell ceremony is a time to show our support for the Soldiers who have volunteered to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies foreign and domestic," said Falcone. "Each and every one of them is a volunteer who has put service before self and who will undergo a number of sacrifices for our great nation in the next year." The Soldiers came together from 12 states to deploy with the 334th, an area that includes all six New England states and stretches as far west as Minnesota and as far south as Virginia. They were transferred in April to provide additional leadership, transportation management coordination, and automated logistical specialist capabilities during the deployment. Falcone talked about the mission, but also reminded the audience of the vital need for family and friends to band together to help each other throughout the deployment. "Our soldiers cannot go it alone. They need strong families and friends to support them," said Falcone. Getting involved with the local Family Readiness Group and making friends are just some of the ways that families can help one another, said Falcone. "You will grow stronger and more dependent on each other. That will not only help you, it will also help your Soldiers so they won't have to worry about you while they are thousand of miles away." The attention was directed not only to friends and families during the ceremony, but to the American flag. "That flag is represented by 5 percent of the population who serve and defend it," said Lt. Col. Joe R. Follansbee, commander of the 334th, as he pointed toward the U.S. flag while addressing the troops and family members. "These 59 Soldiers from the 334th who are deploying keep that flag flying. I am proud to serve for and proud to serve with these Soldiers. Most of all, wherever we take that flag we take our hearts." The ceremony was a time for families to bid farewell, but not goodbye. "Soldiers never say goodbye. We reserve that for those who make the ultimate sacrifice. We say farewell and Godspeed," said Falcone. As the ceremony drew to a close, friends and families embraced their loved ones and gave another round of hugs and kisses. The upcoming deployment comes with mixed reactions, but one thing is certain- the Soldiers feel prepared and are ready to get this journey started. "We're ready to rock," said Spc. Robert Hudson, who's deploying with the 334th.