By CPT Carlos M. CuebasJanuary 31, 2011
Fort Buchanan, PR - Under a beautiful blue sky and with a comfortable weather, 160 Soldiers from the 475th Engineer Company received farewell from friends and relatives, in an emotional ceremony held at the Julio Enrique Monagas Park in Ponce, 15 January 2011. The unit deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Colonel Cosme C. Torres represented Brigadier General Fernando FernAfA!ndez, commander of the 1st Mission Support Command. During his speech, Colonel Torres talked about the 475th Soldiers\' professionalism. "We are before a selected group of Soldiers who will take care of each other. They will accomplish their mission with honor and they will return together, healthy and happy." Colonel Torres also addressed the hundreds of family members present. "We (the 1st MSC) will be taking care of your needs and questions. These Soldiers will communicate with you, they will complete their mission and we will see them again, very soon" stated Colonel Torres who performs as the 1st MSC Plans, Operations and Training Director. Specialist Efrain RolAfA3n was one of the 160 Soldiers departing to Afghanistan. His wife Shakira RolAfA3n came to the event to proudly say good bye to her Soldier. "I am calm because I know he will come back well", said the military spouse. In addition, Specialist Nitza Torrens, who has been in the Army Reserve for six years, working as a Heavy Equipment Operator, stated that she is confident that everything will be all right and that her daughter Nayha will be in good hands, during her deployment. "I know that my daughter will be great with my family... I made an album, so my daughter knows that I am working, that I love her, that I will return and that everything will be all right". Early on the morning of 16 January 2011, the 160 reservists boarded the plane at the Luis Munoz Marin Airport, Carolina Puerto Rico. While walking the line to board the plane that would take them to Fort McCoy, Wisconsin for 45 days of additional training, the Soldiers expressed their confidence. Specialist Mayory Torres, one of the six females in the unit and who performs as a mechanic, said: "I am cool; I am ready to accomplish our mission". The last one to board the plane was the unit Commander, Major Hector CastaAfA+-eda. "We are ready to take care of this mission. Thanks to all the pre-mobilization training received, we are ready to do our job and come back home", said the senior officer of the engineer unit. The 475th Engineer Company's mission is to construct and maintain buildings, roads and bridges, among other tasks. With this mobilization, the First Mission Support Command continues its undivided support to the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT).