SHELBYVILLE – Indiana National Guard Soldiers with Company C, 2-238th General Support Aviation Battalion said goodbye to loved ones and friends in a ceremony at the Army Aviation Support Facility on Wednesday, as they prepare for a mission in Kuwait. The group includes members from Fort Wayne and Columbia City.
Close to 50 troops left for Fort Hood, Texas, where they will continue their training for nearly a month. Afterward, they'll deploy to Kuwait to provide medical response and evacuation capabilities throughout the region.
"We have trained very hard for this mission, and we will continue to do so," said Maj. Bryon Blohm, company commander, during his ceremony speech to his troops. "We will be prepared every day to provide medical care."
Indiana's Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. R. Martin Umbarger, also spoke at the departure ceremony. He started off thanking the soldiers' families.
"You don't wear the uniform, but you too serve," said Umbarger in his speech noting that they, in addition to missing their troops, will also have to contend with daily life at home.
Yet the general also commented on Hoosier, Indiana National Guard patriotism.
“We're proud of being Hoosiers. We're proud to wear the uniform," said Umbarger. "Only three other states have deployed more troops since 9/11."
The medical evacuation company most recently deployed in 2008 with its soldiers receiving the Valorous Unit Award, which is the second highest unit decoration bestowed by the U.S. Army. Before that, the unit deployed to southern states in support of Operation Jump Start in 2007 for border patrol, Hurricane Katrina relief efforts in 2005, and to Bosnia in 2004 in support of Operation Joint Forge.