I Corps Artillery Deploys

 

Written by Lt. Col. Robert Church, I Corps Artillery

Published August 3, 2006

 

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Capt. Roger Ogden, I Corps Artillery, left, with his grandfather Jean Banks, a Marine survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941.

Photo by Sgt. Kelly Collett

Capt. Roger Ogden, I Corps Artillery, left, with his grandfather Jean Banks, a Marine survivor of the attack on Pearl Harbor Dec. 7, 1941.

CAMP SHELBY, Miss. — On the rainy Friday morning of June 9, the main body of approximately 120 Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, I Corps Artillery Forward (ICA FWD) assembled in a hangar at Salt Lake Air Base to bid farewell to wives, children, girlfriends, family and friends.

Commanded by Col. Jerry Acton and Command Sgt. Maj. Steven Stone, ICA FWD will deploy to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom’s Joint Task Force Phoenix V. Their mission will be to work with the Afghan National Army as embedded training teams to mentor Afghan Soldiers as their nation progresses toward becoming a self-sustaining democratic country.

During the course of the morning tears were shed, but those emotions were checked and feelings of love and pride pervaded the hangar. A huge American flag hung from the ceiling and family after family was seen having their photo taken in front of it. Those photos can now be seen on many computer screens as a reminder of those whom our Soldiers love and left behind.

Soldiers of I Corps Artillery, Utah National Guard, line up to board a charter jet to Camp Shelby, Miss., on the first leg of their deployment.

Photo by Sgt. Kelly Collett

Soldiers of I Corps Artillery, Utah National Guard, line up to board a

charter jet to Camp Shelby, Miss., on the first leg of their deployment.

The ATA Airlines charter jet arrived and the call for final formation came. As Soldiers lined up facing their families and loved ones, they could look into the faces of all those who had come to see them off. 

There were signs displaying the love and pride felt by the makers of the signs. Kids were dressed in red, white and blue. Flags were being waved by others. As the formation did a “left-face” and began to march out of the hangar, the crowd began to clap and cheer. It was a very emotional moment.

At the foot of the stairs leading up to the plane, a receiving line formed which included Gov. Jon Huntsman and his wife Mary Kaye; Maj. Gen. Brian Tarbet, Utah Guard Adjutant General; Brig. Gen. Patrick Wilson, I Corp Commander; Command Sgt. Maj. Dell Smith, state sergeant major. Leaders shook each Soldier’s hand and in many cases embraced them, offering words of encouragement.

Maj. Gen. Brian Tarbet, Utah Guard Adjutant General, right, spends a moment with a I Corps Soldier before departing for Camp Shelby.

Photo by Sgt. Kelly Collett

Maj. Gen. Brian Tarbet, Utah Guard Adjutant General, right, spends a moment with a I Corps Soldier before departure to Camp Shelby.

As each Soldier reached the landing prior to entering the plane, he had the opportunity to turn, look for his family and wave. It was a singular moment, not easily put into words.

When the group arrived in Mississippi a few hours later, they were met by the advance party and the muggy climate. Utah Guard Soldiers are all used to heat, but the humidity is another story. Simply standing in the sun waiting to board the buses that would take them to Camp Shelby caused many to break into a sweat. This was a glimpse of what was to come.

Camp Shelby is a huge base encompassing 136,000 acres, and it’s green—not something seen much at Camp Williams. The trees and lush vegetation testify to its humid subtropical climate.

Signs of Katrina’s devastation are still everywhere; trees are down and sections of roofs and siding on buildings are missing. It only serves as a reminder of Mother Nature’s power. The group has been told that they may have the opportunity to experience a hurricane while there. We hope not. However, Camp Shelby is an evacuation center, so Soldiers are in one of the safest places in the Southeast.

Families of I Corps Soldiers watch them climb the stairs of the aircraft which will take them to Mississippi.

Photo by Sgt. Kelly Collett

Families of I Corps Soldiers watch them climb the

stairs of the aircraft which will take them to Mississippi.

Soldiers of ICA FWD have been very impressed with the professionalism and willingness to help by all the staff and trainers at Camp Shelby. Considering the number of Soldiers that had to be processed, the Soldier Readiness Processing went quite smoothly and quickly. Of course, they had their share of “death by PowerPoint,” but the information has generally been useful.

The unit is now trained and qualified on personal weapons, as well as all the crew-served weapons they will be using. The days spent in the field qualifying were hot and humid, but again, well worth the physical discomfort. The ranges are excellent and the range control officers were quick to help and do everything they could to make sure everyone qualified.

The team also spent two days in a land-navigation course. Those were fun days. They completed both a mounted and dismounted course, searching for specific locations on post using a digital satellite mapping device.

I Corps Artillery Soldiers unload their duffel bags at Camp Shelby, Miss., as they begin their deployment training for Operation Enduring Freedom.

Photo by Lt. Col. Robert Church

I Corps Artillery Soldiers unload their duffel bags at Camp Shelby, Miss., as they begin their deployment training for Operation Enduring Freedom.

Each day the team progresses towards becoming a better trained and better prepared command. Soldiers look forward with great anticipation to this mission; they are excited by the prospect of helping the Afghan Army to become a well-trained fighting force.

Through mid-August you may write to anyone in the command at the following address:

         Rank and Name of Soldier

         I Corps Artillery Forward

         Team #___ (Indicate which team the Soldier is on.)

         2490 25th Street

    

         Camp Shelby, MS 39407-5500