By Christina Douglas, 9th Mission Support Command Public AffairsAugust 10, 2010
SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii - Fellow Soldiers, families, friends and guests gathered to honor and bid farewell to the Soldiers of the 305th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment in a deployment ceremony here Aug. 8.
The 20-person, Army Reserve unit is scheduled to deploy to Iraq to provide critical public affairs support as U.S. Forces-Iraq transitions from Operation Iraqi Freedom to Operation New Dawn.
This transition, which is slated for Sept. 1, will signify the end of combat operations and the beginning of stability operations for USF-I.
In her remarks Brig. Gen. Michele G. Compton, commanding general of the 9th Mission Support Command and the ceremony's guest speaker, noted the unit's previous deployments and experience supporting Theater Security Cooperation events throughout the Pacific.
The 305th has proudly represented the command, state and nation in several operational deployments to include Bosnia, Kosovo and most recently Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, said Compton. Additionally, the unit has a wealth of experience in supporting U.S. Pacific Command and U.S. Army, Pacific exercises in various countries to include Thailand, Malaysia, Korea and Indonesia.
"It is because of these accomplishments and the seasoned professionals standing before you in the 305th ranks that I have no doubt the unit will once again serve our nation with excellence," said Compton.
Compton also graciously thanked the family members for all of their support.
"To all of the family members, thank you for your unwavering dedication to our Soldiers. You have all answered the call to duty by supporting your loved ones as they embark on their new mission ... For this selfless service, I am grateful."
Following the guest speaker's address, Capt. Brian Melanephy, the 305th MPAD commander, spoke of the unit's diversity and strength.
"We are a diverse organization ... there are Soldiers not only from Oahu, but also from Guam, Saipan, American Samoa, the Big Island, Kwajalein Atoll, Texas and New Jersey. Seventeen of the 20 Soldiers standing before you today are not only qualified in public affairs, but they also have other military skills too," said Melanephy. "This diversity in background and job skills makes us a unique and strong group."
After the formal portion of the ceremony, distinguished guests to include Congressman (and Army Reservist) Charles Djou, Army Reserve Ambassador P. Pasha Baker, and Compton met with each Soldier providing words of gratitude.
More than 100 family members and guests also lined up to greet the Soldiers.
For many of the Soldiers, this yearlong tour will be their second or even third deployment.
"Even though I've deployed to Iraq on two previous occasions, I'm still looking forward to this deployment because I'll be doing something completely different," said Sgt. Thomas Kappus, a broadcast journalist and former cavalry scout. "My background may have been in combat arms, but public affairs is just as important when it comes to the Army's mission."
Each and every Soldier had some part of their normal daily lives that they would miss, whether it was their family or their friends. But for one Soldier, surfing was equally as difficult to say goodbye to.
One of the unit's photojournalists, Sgt. Tanya Jo Moller, recently placed second in the state at the Hawaii Surf Association's amateur surfing competition. She was selected to go to nationals and instead answered the call to duty.
Although she was sad to miss out on the competition, the Big Island resident, said she'll be back in the water again next year.
The 305th MPAD is a subordinate unit of the 9th Mission Support Command, which is based at Fort Shafter Flats, Honolulu, Hawaii.