Story and photo by: Sgt. 1st Class Andy Yoshimura
CORAOPOLIS, Pa. -- Dozens of Family members and Soldiers lined outside the McGarity U.S. Army Reserve Center, bidding their farewells to more than 60 Soldiers from the 303rd Tactical Psychological Operation Company on January 27. Soldiers and Family braved the 25-degree temperature with warm hugs and kisses before boarding the two buses that will take these Warrior Citizens to Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, N.J. for mobilization training before deploying to Afghanistan this Spring.
These Army Reserve Soldiers will provide military information support operation with the Marines in various locations in Afghanistan.
Mobilizing an Army unit is no easy task. Weeks and months of preparation are needed to make sure these Soldiers are trained and Family members are informed on struggles that they might face while their loved one is deployed.
"As part of a leadership team it is our job to make sure that they are trained properly for their mission," said 1st Sgt. Nicholas Moore. "And also that they are communicating back home and make sure that their families are taken care of."
A Yellow Ribbon event, which helps Family members with resources needed before, during and after a deployment, was held three days prior. For Spc. Christie Chester, a Yellow Ribbon representative for the 303rd, her ultimate goal is to have the families better prepared.
"We need the family to have all of the information that they need and to know what resources that they have out there so they can take care of themselves," said Chester. "Family readiness plus Soldier readiness equals mission readiness."
For approximately 20% of the Soldiers mobilizing, this will be their first mobilization. The busy combination of a Yellow Ribbon event and a mobilization ceremony during the same week has helped the first timers.
Spc. Robert Fabyanic, 40, a sales manager for Radio Shack and a psychological operations specialist joined the Army Reserve for his two daughters. "With this being my first deployment, it's a bag of mixed feelings. I'm excited to go out and finally get to go and do my job but at the same time, I am definitely going to miss my family."
"It's a new experience for me, it's a new experience for them," added Fabyanic.
A mobilization ceremony means to a lot for these men and women of the 303rd as it brought not only Family members and friends but also the Pittsburgh community closer to the unit.
"My father, who served two tours in Vietnam, didn't get anything like this when he left or came home," said Staff Sgt. Tobe Hutchins, a psyop sergeant for the 303rd.
Hutchins, a mother of four and a grandmother of two, appreciated today's events. "Out of all of my family, it is hitting my dad the most because I am the only one out of 14 kids to have joined the military. This mobilization ceremony means a lot for our Family and it shows that we have the [community] support behind us."
For the next month, Soldiers of the 303rd will train in various tactical and technical exercises at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst that will prepare them for many missions in Afghanistan. While completing these missions is the short-term goal, for most of the Soldiers there is only one long-term goal.
"We want everybody that goes with us to come back with us safely," added Chester.