With soldiers wearing civilian clothing, it was difficult to tell them apart from their family members as they prepared to say goodbye Thursday morning.
Nearly 50 13th Sustainment Command and 1st Cavalry Division soldiers left Fort Hood for a nine-month deployment to the Sinai Peninsula. Together, they will comprise the 1st Support Battalion.
“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.”
Capt. David Chapman, battalion chaplain, described the mission to Egypt as a privilege. Having previously been to both Iraq and Afghanistan, he was looking forward to a peacekeeping mission as opposed to a combat deployment.
“It’s what we really want to do ... keeping the peace rather than looking for a fight,” Chapman said.
The unit will serve as logistical support for three companies alongside forces from 12 countries in ongoing Multinational Force and Observer peacekeeping efforts in the region.
“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.”