By Rachel Knight
WARRENSBURG, Mo. – The Missouri National Guard, friends, Families and coworkers wished the members of the 1-135th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion good luck on their yearlong deployment with a departure ceremony March 24.
The aviation battalion, headquartered at Whiteman Air Force Base with a company in Clinton, will deploy more than 300 Soldiers as an attack and reconnaissance asset to Afghanistan. The unit is commanded by Lt. Col. James P. Schreffler and Command Sgt. Maj. David C. Gail.
Maj. Gen. Steve Danner, adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard, reminded the Soldiers of 1st Attack to “keep an eye on the ball.” He said he wants them to stay mission focused and return safely, and asked the Veteran members of the unit that have been deployed before to take the first-time Soldiers under their wings.
He also stressed that Soldiers need to stay connected with their Families back home. With technology today, there is Skype, Facebook, and other social networking sites that will help members stay current with what’s happening with their Families.
The unit completed its 30-day annual training, which encompassed its pre-mobilization training at Gowen Field, near Boise, Idaho, where they conducted essential Army training with day and night aerial gunnery, high altitude flight training and theater specific individual required training. After its departure ceremony, the Soldiers will continue their mobilization training in Fort Hood, Texas, before making the journey to Afghanistan.
As part of a long-standing tradition of the Missouri National Guard, an American Flag is presented to the oldest deploying member of the unit and the Missouri State Flag is presented to the youngest deploying Soldier.
Sgt. 1st Class Barry Keck has 22 years of military service and has deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Danner presented him with the American Flag.
Eighteen-year-old Pvt. Haley Cronk has one year of military service and will be going on her first deployment. Command Sgt. Maj. Will Pierce, state command sergeant major, presented Cronk with the Missouri State Flag.
Elaine Horn, mayor of Sedalia, told the Soldiers of 1st Attack that they are just “ordinary people” but they do “extraordinary things” and what they do touches the heart of everyone around them.
Don Butterfield, mayor of Warrensburg, told the Soldiers that they are here for the Families any way they can be and they shouldn’t hesitate to ask.
The 1-135th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion has a rich history as an Army Aviation Battalion within the Missouri National Guard. The battalion has trained with the UH-1 Huey, OH-58A/C Kiowa, AH-1F Cobra and the AH-64A Apache helicopters. It has evolved into an AH-64D Longbow Apache unit and has completed two successful annual training gunnery exercises and one high altitude mountainous environment training exercise.
The battalion has responded to multiple calls to support State Emergency Duty and provided assistance to the State of Louisiana in the fall of 2005 shortly after hurricanes Katrina and Rita devastated the state.
In 2006, Alpha Company of the battalion deployed 48 Soldiers as part of the 1-149th Attack Reconnaissance Battalion from the Texas National Guard in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Individually, Alpha Company Soldiers were awarded five Distinguished Flying Crosses, three Bronze Stars, one Purple Heart, 13 Air Medals with Valor and numerous other awards. Photos courtesy of Rachel Knight/Missouri National Guard.