By Josh Cohen
Vermont National Guard Public Affairs
The Vermont Army National Guard conducted three deployment ceremonies in Mid-May marking completion of the departure of approximately 950 Soldiers to overseas locations in support of U.S. Europe, U.S. Africa and U.S. Central Command.
The most recent ceremonies were held at the Camp Ethan Allan Training Site in Jericho; Vermont National Guard armory in St. Albans,; and Joint Force Headquarters, Camp Johnson in Colchester. The Soldiers have prepared for these deployments for over a year and are among the most ready in the country.
On May 14, Sen. Bernie Sanders addressed approximately 95 deploying Soldiers of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain) during a departure ceremony at the Camp Ethan Allen Training Site Parade Field.
"Let me take a moment to thank the Vermont National Guard for your willingness to serve in Kosovo and for the extraordinary work you've done over the past year, I've had the pleasure and honor of meeting some of you in Washington D.C. where you came to make sure we brought about order for the inauguration of President Biden, and you did just that."
In a prerecorded message, Vermont Governor Phil Scott spoke of the Vermont National Guard's long history of success.
"Over the past 14 months you worked to keep Vermonters safe, setting up field hospitals, administering tests and distributing vaccine, I'm confident this mission will be no different, you'll certainly face unexpected challenges over the coming months, just remember your training has prepared you to adapt and be resilient, and most importantly you have a great team beside you."
Addressing the deploying unit, Maj. Gen. Gregory Knight, adjutant general of the Vermont National Guard, prompted Soldiers to keep their uniqueness in mind while overseas.
"I'll remind all of you as you go through this mobilization and deployment, you're different, and I firmly believe that, because you've chosen to give of yourself to serve your community, state and nation."
Col. Brey Hopkins, commander, 86th IBCT (MTN) also reminded the unit’s Soldiers of their recent significant accomplishments.
“Within the last 12 months the Soldiers on the field in front of us supported the COVID response operations, many of which continue, (and) you responded to a no-notice 48 hour deployment to the National Capitol Region in support of the presidential inauguration,” Hopkins said.
A day earlier, on May 13, about 195 Soldiers from 1st Squadron, 172nd Cavalry Regiment (MTN) and Delta Company, 186th Brigade Support Battalion boarded a chartered New England Patriots branded aircraft at the Army Aviation Flight Facility in South Burlington.
From Vermont the aircraft transported Soldiers to Fort Bliss, Texas, where they will conduct additional pre-deployment training. These Soldiers are part of the group supporting the NATO Kosovo Force mission.
Prior to boarding, Maj. Zachariah Fike, 1-172nd CAV (MTN) commander, expressed his thoughts on the deployment.
"I'm extremely proud of 1-172nd CAV (MTN), these soldiers have been getting ready for the last two years for this deployment they are about to depart on for the next several months, it is an extreme sacrifice they are putting fourth for the nation," he said.
The 1-172nd CAV (MTN) had its departure ceremony 28 hours earlier, within walking distance to the unit's armory in Taylor Park in St. Albans. During the proceedings, the Mayor of St. Albans, Tim Smith addressed the deploying Soldiers.
“We are proud to be home to the 1-172nd CAV (MTN) and we support your missions whether they be domestic or abroad.”
Completing 2021 overseas VTARNG departures, a deployment ceremony was held for Task Force Mansfield and the 172nd Public Affairs Detachment on May 18 at Joint Force Headquarters, Camp Johnson, Colchester. Just over 30 Soldiers from Task Force Mansfield and approximately four Soldiers comprising the 172nd PAD will support a NATO mission in Europe.
Vermont National Guard overseas missions began last January in support of U.S. Europe Command.
2021 VTARNG deployments include:
January: Approximately 35 Soldiers of the 172nd Law Enforcement Detachment deployed in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel in U.S. Europe Command.
February: Approximately 350 Soldiers of 3rd Battalion, 172nd Infantry (Mountain); Golf Company, 186th Brigade Support Battalion; and Alpha Company, 572nd Brigade Engineer Battalion; deployed as Task Force Avalanche in support of Operation Spartan Shield, U.S. Central Command.
March: Approximately 120 Soldiers from Bravo Company, 572nd BEB; and Charlie Company, 3-172 IN (MTN); deployed in support of U.S. Africa Command as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Later in March: Approximately 60 Soldiers from Bravo Battery ,1st Battalion, 101st Field Artillery Regiment followed, and their mission involves support for Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.
May: Approximately 195 Soldiers from 1-172nd CAV (MTN) and Delta Company, 186th Brigade Support Battalion, and 95 Soldiers of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Mountain) departed in support of the NATO KFOR mission in Kosovo. These Soldiers were followed by the deployment of approximately four Soldiers with the 172nd PAD, also serving as part of the KFOR mission.