Soldiers, family members and friends of the 1st Battalion, 44th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade, gathered at Sadowski Field on Aug. 28 to watch the battalion case its colors in preparation for its imminent, yearlong deployment to Southwest Asia.
Despite the deployment getting pushed seven months ahead of schedule, the troops are trained and ready to go, said Lt. Col. Maurice Barnett, battalion commander.
The battalion has been training hard the past several months, and the soldiers have spent a lot of time away from their families in the field. “The soldiers have done a phenomenal job of preparing and getting ready,” Barnett said.
February marked the start of basic gunnery training, and April and March were a variety of mission readiness exercises to ensure the soldiers were prepared and trained on their respective pieces of military equipment and on what it would take to make the upcoming mission a success.
“We are excited and ready to execute this mission,” Barnett said.
The unit has overcome many obstacles and has shown great strength and resilience through the months leading up to the deployment, said Col. Michael Morrissey, commander of the 31st Air Defense Artillery Brigade from Fort Sill, Okla.
The soldiers are ready to serve, and the families are ready to support them in order for this unit to write the next chapter of its history in air defense, Morrissey said.
The color casing ceremony is a tradition of any unit moving to a new location, temporarily or permanently. The unit will uncase its colors again once it reaches its final destination. This ceremony symbolizes the ending of one mission here, and the beginning of another mission half a world away.
The battalion will join the 69th’s 1st Battalion, 62nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, and its brigade headquarters in the Central Command area of operations.