69th ADA troops deploy

Sgt. 1st Class Paul Gahl, Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, gets the deploying troops prepared to get on the bus to leave the Lightning Ranch on Jan. 17.

U.S. Army/Sgt. Maria Kappell

Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, were given a heartfelt send-off by their families and comrades within the unit at the unit’s Lightning Ranch on Jan. 17.

The soldiers of the battery left their families at Fort Hood in order to assume command and control of several Patriot batteries located throughout the Central Command area of operations and Southwest Asia.

The unit will play an important role in the protection of military members from various countries and branches of military services while protecting critical sites and assets.

The battery deployed more than 50 soldiers to handle the forward mission, while the rest of the battery will stay behind to take care of on-going operations.

“We have been working hard to reach this point, and we are ready to go,” said Capt. Allen Barron, the forward battery commander.

The soldiers spent the past several months training and preparing for the nine-month deployment, to include a brigadewide exercise in September.

Although the families will be separated from their soldiers for just under a year, there are plenty of opportunities for the soldiers to keep in contact with their loved ones back home. The brigade chaplain, Maj. Vernon Shackelford, assured the troops that their families would be in good hands as they serve downrange.

“Thanks for what you do to support your soldiers,” said Col. Randall McIntire, brigade commander.

While the air defenders in the unit embark on this important mission of keeping an eye on the sky, it is important that the home fires keep burning as well, McIntire said.

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