Tuesday, January 4, 2011

115th ‘Warrior Medics’ head downrange

A gray, rain-filled sky echoed the sentiments of damily, friends and co-workers who gathered at Fort Polk’s 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade Gym Dec. 29 to bid Godspeed to members of the 115th Combat Support Hospital, 1st Medical Brigade, during a ceremony for the unit’s upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.

“If you’re a Warrior medic, this ceremony was probably not on your list of things to do,” Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk commander Brig. Gen. James Yarbrough said. “You’ve reached a point where you get what I call the Nike attitude about deploying — you’ve talked about it, thought about it, trained for it, now let’s ‘Just Do It.’”

Yarbrough said the 115th CSH’s mission is critical to the success of Operation Enduring Freedom. “No medical unit is better prepared than this one,” he said.
After speaking to the qualities of the 115th CSH leadership team — Col. Patricia Darnauer and Command Sgt. Maj. Timothy Motes — Yarbrough turned his comments to the unit’s family members.

“You’ve got the tough job — living with uncertainty, wanting to know each moment how your loved one is faring, waiting for the next update and clinging to the news reports each day,” he said. “Please know your country understands your sacrifices and we’re all in this together; the mission is critical and we can’t succeed without you. Your strength and encouragement is helping win this war.”

Yarbrough also thanked the surrounding civilian community for its support.
“Your support is stronger now than it’s ever been and it comes at a time when we need it the most,” he said. “You care about our mission, our soldiers and our families. Thank you.”

Col. Bruce McVeigh, commander of 1st Med Bde, followed Yarbrough to the podium. He said the soldiers of the 115th CSH were ready to take up their assigned mission.
“This unit is clearly ready to deploy and provide critical life saving care when called upon,” McVeigh said. “They will make a difference in the lives of many who will ultimately need their care for survival on what is still a very volatile battlefield.”

Darnauer was the last to speak. She said the 115th CSH is ready to provide essential and critical medical care in an austere environment.

“The 115th has trained hard to prepare for this deployment,” Darnauer said. “Those deployers organic to Fort Polk have received more than 2,400 man-days of training, while we’ve trained 92 medical professionals who joined our ranks just in time to deploy with us. We are ready to step up and write the next chapter in the history of the 115th Combat Support Hospital.”

She then addressed her soldiers’ families.
“Command Sgt. Maj. Motes and I commit to safeguarding your soldier in every preventable manner,” she said.

Darnauer said she has also urged her soldiers to develop a personal growth plan while deployed.

“Whether that be physical, spiritual or educational, we hope your soldier returns next year an ever stronger individual, better capable of coping with life’s challenges.”

Darnauer said both the soldiers in the field and the rear detachment would stay in constant contact so that both were aware of activities both in Afghanistan and on Fort Polk. She then looked forward to the deployment’s completion.

“We’ll return next winter with reflections on our accomplishments and joy in our hearts as we are united with those who have supported us during the months of separation,” she said. “We look forward to our next ceremony at Fort Polk when we uncase our colors after a successful deployment.”

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