Soldiers receive local sendoff before deployment


UTICA — New York Army National Guard soldiers in the 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry received hugs and emotional good-byes at a formal ceremony, Tuesday, at the Mohawk Valley Community College campus in Utica before their deployment to the Horn of Africa.

The deployment ceremony brought friends and families of the soldiers together, along with featured guests, to acknowledge their service and allow them time to spend with their loved ones before leaving on an 11-month long tour of duty.

The 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry is a 124-year-old regiment whose service spans World War I and II, the September 11th attacks, the COVID-19 pandemic and most recently providing security for President Joe Biden’s inauguration to help to ensure a peaceful transition of power following the January 6th attack on the United States Capitol.

Assemblywoman Marianne Buttenschon, D-119, Marcy, was one of the featured guests who spoke during the ceremony. Buttenschon thanked the soldiers for their dedication and commitment to their country.

“From my heart, I can not thank you enough for the role models that you are for our country, for your willingness to lead in such a challenging time,” Buttenschon said.

“As we listen to the history of the battalion and infantry of all they have done for our country, you are right with them, to support us, to be here for us. I can not thank you enough,” she added.

Assemblyman Robert Smullen, R-118, Gloversville, and a retired Marine Corps colonel spoke to the friends and family in attendance to remind them of the importance of the National Guard and their mission to defend the nation and its interests.

“These soldiers here are part of that legacy, that tradition of doing America’s work oversees to stop the threat before it comes here, to do what Americans have always done, to do what’s right, to take care of America’s business to support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” Smullen said.

After the ceremony, approximately 130 soldiers were bused to Fort Drum in Watertown to begin three weeks of training, then an additional 45 days of training at Fort Bliss, Texas.

After training is complete, the soldiers will then spend the next 10 months in Djibouti, Kenya and Somalia.


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