Local guardsmen heading to Texas, then to Kuwait

OBSERVER Staff and

Wire Report

Deployment ceremonies are being held this weekend for more than 300 New York Army National Guard members who are headed to Kuwait.

Two of the ceremonies were held Saturday morning, one for a unit in Chautauqua County and the other for a unit based on Long Island.

Fifty members of Co. A of the 642nd Aviation Support Battalion based in Dunkirk left Saturday morning to Fort Hood in Texas for training before deploying to the Persian Gulf in support of U.S. forces stationed there. They’ll be joined by another 175 soldiers from the battalion’s companies based at McArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma.

A send-off ceremony was held Saturday morning at Southwestern Central High School in Jamestown. The soldiers provide aviation maintenance and logistical support to Army helicopter units.

Also heading to Kuwait are 100 soldiers assigned to the battalion’s headquarters based at Rochester International Airport. Their deployment ceremony is this morning at the airport.In a statement issued Saturday, Gov. Andrew Cuomo praised the soldiers for their service to New York and the United States.

“These citizen soldiers were there to help countless New Yorkers in need during Superstorm Sandy and now they stand ready to help their country overseas,” Cuomo said. “Our thanks, prayers and best wishes for these brave men and women who serve our country, our state and its citizens to come back to us safely.”

These units, as well as additional non-New York units, will fall under the command of Col. Albert Ricci, commander of the 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade when they deploy to Kuwait.

The 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade will take command of 400 soldiers of the Army’s 4th Battalion 227th Aviation Regiment, an Attack Reconnaissance Battalion based at Fort Hood which flies the AH-64 D Apache “Longbow” attack helicopter. The brigade will also be assigned the 400 troops of the 3rd Battalion 238th General Support Aviation Battalion which is a Michigan National Guard aviation unit with some elements from the Delaware National Guard.

A General Support Aviation Battalion includes UH-60 helicopters configured as Air Ambulances for medical evacuation, UH-60 used in the command and control role to move key personnel around the country, and CH-47 heavy lift helicopters which can move up to 30 troops and large amounts of cargo.

The three New York National Guard elements will mobilize for federal duty at different times during the month of September so they are holding their mobilization ceremony at the beginning of the month.

The soldiers will be on federal active duty for 12 months and spend about nine months in Kuwait.

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