In preparation for their upcoming deployment to Afghanistan, soldiers of the Macon-based 1438th Engineer Company of the Missouri Army National Guard took part in a Yellow Ribbon program event over the weekend at the Clayton Sheridan Hotel.
The Guard’s Yellow Ribbon Program was designed to prepare soldiers and their families for overseas deployments and for the transition back to civilian life upon the return home. Pre-deployment program events help military families prepare for all aspects of deployment; financially, organizationally and emotionally. As such, 1438th Families were provided with numerous on-the-spot resources for taking advantage of active-duty benefits and preparing for their soldier’s long absence.
“There are so many resources available to deploying soldiers and their families that we bring them together under one roof,” said Lt. Col. Ed Gargas, commanding officer of the Cape Girardeau-based 1140th Engineer Battalion, of which the 1438th is a subordinate unit. “Yellow Ribbon assures that the soldier-families are as prepared for the deployment as the soldiers themselves. The soldier has to concentrate on his or her training. They don’t want to have to worry about how their loved ones are getting along while they are deployed. If they know their families are taken care of they can concentrate on the mission.”
The 1438th is a bridging company. About 180 soldiers of the unit will deploy to southern Afghanistan this spring where they will spend 10 months dismantling the numerous temporary, modular bridges built by the U.S. and British militaries throughout Operation Enduring Freedom.
“Our mission is part of the U.S. commitment to pull out of Afghanistan by next year,” said Capt. McClellan H. Gaono-Taiese, the 1438th commander. “The majority of our time will be spent tearing down these bridge sections and preparing them for shipment back to the United States.”
The 1438th will continue its pre-deployment mission training at Camp Crowder, near Neosho, before heading to Fort Dix, N.J. and then to Afghanistan. The unit is slated to return home in spring, 2014.