Deploying to the Sinai Peninsula was a welcome change for Capt. David Chapman, battalion chaplain, compared to previous combat deployments.
He described the mission to Egypt as a privilege. Having previously been to both Iraq and Afghanistan, he was looking forward to a peacekeeping mission.
“It’s what we really want to do ... keeping the peace rather than looking for a fight,” Chapman said, standing beside his wife, Sarah.
He was one of 50 soldiers with the 13th Sustainment Command and 1st Cavalry Division who left Fort Hood on Thursday for a nine-month deployment to the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt. Together, they will comprise the headquarters company for 1st Support Battalion, replacing National Guard units from North Carolina and Puerto Rico.
“The hardest part is the time,” said Alicia Clark, of being separated from her significant other, Sgt. Renee Lowery, for the next nine months.
This is their first deployment as a couple. The separation will be especially tough for Clark’s 1-year-old son, Jace.
“He’s really attached. It’s hard,” Clark said, wiping away tears as she watched Jace run to Lowery’s outstretched arms.
Prior to the ceremony, leaders of the Belton and Temple Chambers of Commerce presented Lt. Col. Aaron Hardy Jr., battalion commander, with their city flags.
Brig. Gen. Clark LeMasters Jr., commander of the 13th Sustainment Command, put the gathered families at ease as the soldiers prepared to go into “an extremely unique mission in an extremely unique part of the world,” he said. “They’re going into a fairly stable environment.” Though Egypt is often portrayed as violent, “there is more to the story than what you see on the news.”
The task force will provide logistical support for three companies alongside forces from 12 countries in ongoing Multinational Force and Observer peacekeeping efforts in the region.
The battalion provides support to 12 nations comprising the contingent: Australia, Canada, Colombia, the Czech Republic, the Republic of the Fiji Islands, France, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Uruguay.
As an independent, international organization, the Multinational Force and Observer developed as a result of the signing of the 1979 Camp David Peace Accords.
The force was established in 1981, and U.S. military has aided the mission of maintaining peace along the Israeli-Egyptian border since 1982.
“This mission is important,” Hardy said. “It will have a positive impact on citizens in this region.” His company’s role will include providing food, water and fuel to the units overseas. Preparation included postal operations training.
The battalion will join the 6th Squadron, 9th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, which deployed to the region last summer.
“I’m going to miss him,” Hardy’s wife, Letisha, said. “The time has come so fast.”
She will stay close with her family in San Antonio and the spouses in her family readiness group during the deployment while hoping time passes swiftly.
“There’s danger anywhere, but I do feel more secure than (if it were) Afghanistan,” she said. “We’ll have care packages going over every holiday.”