As the sun set on the 41st Fires Brigade headquarters building, young kids ran across the grass playing tag while soldiers created a human assembly line to load their gear into baggage trucks. Friends, families and co-workers gathered in the parking lot to give hugs, share smiles and bid farewell to loved ones.
Soldiers from Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, 41st Fires Brigade, deployed to Kuwait Aug. 20 to work for Army Central Command as the Force Field Artillery Headquarters.
“I should be nervous, but I think I’m more excited,” said 2nd Lt. Julie Alderman, a platoon leader in brigade’s 324th Network Signal Company. She, along with many others, had never deployed, but eagerly looked forward to the new experiences this deployment will provide.
Alderman said she expects going to Kuwait will enable her to learn more about being in the Army and what it entails. The opportunity to grow in her career as an officer, she said.
For others this isn’t their first trip across the pond.
“It’s kind of routine now,” said Capt. Becky Wagner, the brigade assistant operations officer. “But this will be different though, because it’s more of a peace-time environment than combat.”
Wagner, like many others, possesses a wealth of experience that can potentially benefit the overall mission of building and improving relationships with the U.S. partner-nations in the region.
“My last two deployments were both to Afghanistan, and we did a lot of partnering with the local military and government so hopefully that will translate a little to this deployment,” she said.
For most of the soldiers, the majority of their time during this deployment will be spent in Kuwait, though some elements may be moved to other areas based on future mission requirements. Though many may be apprehensive about what life will be like in Kuwait, there are those who are looking forward to returning to the small desert country.
“I like Kuwait, it’s not bad,” said Sgt. 1st Class Rick Hemion, the brigade air defense, air space management noncommissioned officer-in-charge. “I’m excited to do something new. I’m an air traffic controller, so I’m normally going over with (other air traffic controllers) and this is my first time with a fires brigade, so it’ll be something interesting, something different.”
This trip to Kuwait will be Hemion’s fourth deployment. He’s been to Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait. When asked how he plans to help the young soldiers with no deployment experience, he said, “I’ll pull them up underneath the wing and get them ready for it, they’ll be fine. We trained up pretty well and I think everybody’s ready.”