By Spc. Duncan Foote, Louisiana National Guard Public Affairs Office
NEW ORLEANS – The Louisiana Army National Guard’s Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Assault Helicopter Battalion, 244th Aviation Regiment, bid farewell to family and friends during a departure ceremony at the Army Aviation Support Facility #1 in Hammond, Louisiana, Dec. 2.
“Although you may be apprehensive and nervous, I see a spark in each of you. By the end of this deployment, your knowledge base will have grown, your confidence to make decisions will have grown, and you will be performing at a level above your current rank,” said battalion commander Lt. Col. Edwin Reliford. “You are the future of the battalion.”
Before deploying overseas, the more than 70 Soldiers with the 1-244th will conduct mobilization training at Fort Cavazos, Texas, to hone skills and prepare to deploy to Kosovo in support of a NATO-led peacekeeping mission.
“Sgt. Maj. [Command Sgt. Maj. Reginald Gagnard, senior enlisted leader of the 1-244th Assault Helicopter Battalion] and I have instilled certain values in you; the values of family, teamwork, that we never do anything alone, and to look after one another,” Reliford told the deploying Soldiers. “We instilled these values for a reason. These values will lead you through the long days and cold nights.”
Maj. Gen. Keith Waddell, adjutant general of the Louisiana National Guard, told the Soldiers that the key to a successful deployment is teamwork and self-care.
“To the Soldiers that are deploying, thank you for being a part of the one percent of the United States population that serves our country who took an oath to support and defend our country against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” expressed Waddell.
Waddell went on to thank the families and employers for their dedication and sacrifices made while the Soldiers are deployed.
“You are the backbone of the unit,” said Waddell. “You’re the true unsung heroes of the Louisiana National Guard. Please know that you are always valued and always appreciated.”
The 1-244th Assault Helicopter Battalion has been tasked with multiple overseas deployments and domestic emergency response missions over the last few decades. Their role is vital to protecting assets and ensuring the safety of the citizens of Louisiana and the United States.