Guam News - Guam News
Guam- Hundreds of family and friends came together this past Saturday, March 2 to bid farewell to the nearly 600 soldiers of the Guam National Guard that are deploying to Afghanistan. The Guam Guard now must face the challenge of maintaining certain levels of readiness and support services until the deployment is completed.
The Barrigada Readiness Center was filled with family and friends early Saturday morning as they said goodbye to their loved ones that are part of the deploying 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment. The soldiers loaded up on tour buses and were shuttled to Andersen Air Force Base.
A final goodbye wave could been seen outside the Air Force base as people honked horns and waved their U.S. and Guam flags. Several of them could be seen crying and hugging others as the buses passed.
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Major Chris Camacho was activated as the Rear Detachment Officer In Charge (OIC) while the soldiers are away. His primary emphasis is to support the families of the Guardsmen that are deployed. He says the battalion is now in Camp Shelby, Mississippi for mobilization training before they reach Afghanistan.
Prior to their departure, Lt. Colonel Mike Tougher, Commander of 1-294th Infantry Regiment, said they will arrive in Afghanistan around mid-April and stay there for about 9 months. They will provide training to various Afghan Army units and security to high ranking NATO and Afghan leaders and security for military convoys.
This may be the largest deployment in the history of the Guam Guard, but Major Camacho says they still have about 226 soldiers that were left behind for various reasons. Some were ineligible to deploy and others are recent basic training graduates.
"I've got about 226 soldiers that I'm responsible for" said Camacho. "My job is to ensure we maintain a level of readiness with the Army and Army standards and to essentially sustain the training that's required for the soldiers that are left behind."
As part of the Guard's Rear Detachment chain of command, Camacho mentions they have to maintain certain levels of readiness and act as a liaison to direct families to third party services that can help them. For example, he recommends for families to reflect the current active duty status of the deployed Guardsmen by updating their identification cards.
He also says the Rear Detachment relies heavily on their Family Readiness Group to help spouses of service members that have deployed for the first time.
And if you notice a yellow ribbon tied around a tree or power pole, Camacho adds this is also tied to the Guam Guard's deployment. He explains it represents to the community that a loved one has been sent into harm's way.
"The tradition is that whenever a family member has a soldier that's been sent overseas or into harm's way, they would tie a yellow ribbon on a tree, or anything in a public light, just to remind the community that we do have folks from our community that are out there and we want to keep them safe and keep them in our prayers" said Camacho.
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