Christmas Mobilization

 

Written by Spc. Todd Sparks and Sgt. Scott Faddis

Published December 11, 2003

   
Spec. Corrine Brinkerhoff, a cook in the 116th Engineer Company, is receiving one of the shots that she needs as part of the mobilization.  The shot is being given by Staff Sgt. Mark Evans, a member of the 19th Group Special Forces.
U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Scott Faddis

Spec. Corrine Brinkerhoff, a cook in the 116th Engineer Company, is receiving one of the shots that she needs as part of the mobilization.  The shot is being given by Staff Sgt. Mark Evans, a member of the 19th Group Special Forces.

The holiday season is typically a time for relaxing and spending time with family, but for many Utah Army National Guard soldiers the next few weeks will be spent preparing for mobilization as part of Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.

On Dec. 6 and 7, members of the 115th Engineer Group; 116th Engineer Company; 1st Battalion, 211th Aviation Regiment; and the 300th Military Intelligence Brigade took the first step toward activation by completing what is known as Soldier Readiness Processing (SRP) at the Camp Williams Readiness Center.

Before members of the National Guard can be activated, they first need to be inprocessed and validated by the Army. “The state-run SRP makes sure that soldiers are ready to be federalized,” said Utah Mobilization Readiness Officer Lt. Col. Patricia Vinson.

“The SRP takes care of everything that soldiers need to go into federal service such as family support, computerizing records, job support, powers of attorney, wills, medical readiness, up-to-date security clearances, personnel records, immunizations, and making sure that their financial records are in order.” Vinson said.

U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Scott Faddis  Sgt. 1st Class Bridgett Bridges reviews Sgt. Jose Subweeks personnel folder to ensure that he can mobilize with the 116th Enginner Company.
U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Scott Faddis

 

 Sgt. 1st Class Bridgett Bridges reviews

 Sgt. Jose Subweeks personnel folder

 to ensure that he can mobilize with the

116th Enginner Company.

Preparing soldiers for a deployment is critical to the welfare of both the soldier and the family. The SRP is a comprehensive program to ensure that everything from a soldier’s medical records to their family information is current and correct.

Preparing soldiers for mobilization can be a daunting task, especially in Utah where up to 85 percent of the force has been deployed at one time. “We are doing the same amount of processing that a regular mobilization station would do for the active component,” said Vinson.

What makes this accomplishment even more impressive is the incredible success rate of Utah’s mobilization process. “Utah’s SRP program is one of the best in the Army,” explained Vinson. “We have the highest standard and the lowest dropout rate from any mobilization station.”

2nd Lt. Hayley Breck, from the 640th RTI, giving aviators a class on the uses on NBC detection paper.  The students are all members of the 1-211th Avation Battalion that is preparing to mobilize.

U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Scott Faddis

 

2nd Lt. Hayley Breck, from the 640th RTI, giving aviators a class on the uses on NBC detection paper.  The students are all members of the 1-211th Avation Battalion that is preparing to mobilize.

The mobilization station at Camp Williams processed approximately 600 soldiers on this weekend, and the quality of the SRP has not gone unnoticed by the Army. Typically, reservists have had to repeat the entire mobilization paperwork process after being federalized. However, the Army now accepts soldiers mobilized at Camp Williams without repeating the process, which means less hassle for Utah’s deploying Guard members.

In addition to assessing unit mobilization readiness, the pending deployment will require a lot of changes in soldiers’ individual lives. Many find themselves leaving behind unfinished tasks and obligations.
 

Spc. David Crookston, 141st Military Intelligence Battalion (Linguist), was married just five months ago and is still in college. Yet, like so many other Guard members in similar situations, he’s motivated to serve despite the challenges. “I feel honored. It’s necessary, so I’m willing to do it,” said Crookston.

While nearly all the soldiers at the SRP were being called to duty, Pfc. Brett Harrison, a supply specialist from 1st Battalion, 145th Field Artillery, volunteered for the 18-month deployment. He will be serving with the 116th Engineer Company (Combat Support Equipment).

Soldiers on the 116th Engineer Company waiting in line to have their personnel records looked at. ( From right to left) Pfc. John Stephenson, Pvt 2 Lonnie Peterson, Spec. James Elliott, Spec Kade Wabeck and Pfr. Cedrick Merritt.
U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Scott Faddis

Soldiers on the 116th Engineer Company waiting in line to have their personnel records looked at. ( From right to left) Pfc. John Stephenson, Pvt 2 Lonnie Peterson, Spec. James Elliott, Spec Kade Wabeck and Pfr. Cedrick Merritt.



Being from a family with a strong Utah National Guard background, Harrison explained his reasons for volunteering. “It’s my heritage, patriotism, and I just want to go and serve my country and get some experience.”

Many soldiers are deploying for the first time, but some units like the 1st Battalion, 211th Aviation Regiment completed a rotation in Kuwait 15 months ago. Starting a second deployment in two years means another Christmas away from home for many.

Sgt. Michael Horigan, Spc. Phillip Knavel, and Staff Sgt. Max Chavez, are three members of the 211th that were deployed to Kuwait. All three have positive attitudes about being mobilized again. The hardest part for them will be the parts of their lives that they will be missing while they are deployed.

Staff Sgt. Michael Kirby applies a field dressing to Spec. Justin Shannon while Cadet Justin Card(now 2nd Lt.) evaluates the steps.  All three are members of the 1-211th Aviation Batttalion, this is one of the tasks that the common tasks that those being mobilized must pass.

U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Scott Faddis

 

Staff Sgt. Michael Kirby applies a field dressing to Spec. Justin Shannon while Cadet Justin Card(now 2nd Lt.) evaluates the steps.  All three are members of the 1-211th Aviation Batttalion, this is one of the tasks that the common tasks that those being mobilized must pass.



“I have only been here for one birthday, and here we are going again,” said Horigan.

Bringing up what they have missed and will miss started all three talking about holidays away from home. Both Horigan and Knavel explained that they have been home for only one of the past several Christmases. And all three know that they are going to miss more than just Christmas with their families this year.

Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Rodney Robinson, 1st Battalion, 211th Aviation Regiment, is being mobilized with the rest of his unit. Robinson spent Dec. 7 alongside his soldiers to receive medical and Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical (NBC) training.

Sgt. William Purt is reviewing Pfc. Brett Harrison's medical records.  Pfc Harrison is a supply specialist that was a member of the 1-145th Artillery, he volunteered to be mobilized with the 116th Engineer Battalion.

U.S. Army Photo by Spc. Scott Faddis

 

Sgt. William Purt is reviewing Pfc. Brett Harrison's medical records.  Pfc Harrison is a supply specialist that was a member of the 1-145th Artillery, he volunteered to be mobilized with the 116th Engineer Battalion.



“I think everybody is excited to go. I caveat that with that nobody wants to go. Nobody wants to leave their family, but this is what we train to do. It is a great adventure,” said Robinson.