by Art Cusano
PEEKSKILL, N.Y. – Hundreds gathered at the New York National Guard Armory in Peekskill to say goodbye to 130 local members of the New York National Guard before they prepare to leave for service overseas.
Soldiers of the New York Army National Guard’s Company B, 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry Regiment are preparing to leave the area for service in support of security operations in Kuwait and other locations.
“Your soldiers are in good hands,” Capt. Matt Kilgore told family members on hand. “We have the right people in the right place in the right time to be successful no matter what the world or the Army or the nation asks us to do. We have the right equipment, we’ve been trained on it well and encountered some of the toughest training that the Army has to offer.”
The soldiers are among 1,800 across the state being deployed to the 27th Brigade Combat Team. The brigade will train for deployment and refine its task organization during post-mobilization training at Camp Shelby, Miss. and are expected to depart for Kuwait in April.
Kilgore said Sunday’s ceremony was the culmination of a year’s worth of training and preparation including training in the Mojave Desert last October. He also thanked the families of those about to deploy.
“Thank you, not only for your sacrifice while these men are deployed, but for in a way donating these soldiers to the Army and the nation,” Kilgore said. “You bear just as strong a burden as any soldier out here, even more so.”
Among those who addressed the troops was Sgt. Major Robert Jenks, who said the Army had done everything it could to prepare troops and urged soldiers to stay sharp and ready for anything they might encounter.
“Training is like breathing – it doesn’t stop unless you’re dead, so train all the time,” Jenks said.
He also reminded those on hand to live their lives by the United States Army values.
“We’ve had problems over the years where servicemen in whatever service, have done some things that did not put us in a good light as Americans and especially as servicemen,” Jenks said. “Do what’s morally and ethically right all the time every time.”
Several soldiers received awards for service, including Specialist Mark Dougherty, who was awarded the Purple Heart for injuries he sustained in active duty.
Sunday’s event was attended by elected officials including State Sen. Greg Ball, a representative of Assembly members Sandy Galef and Robert Castelli, and County Legislator John Testa.