Weekly Volcano Blogs: Walkie Talkie Blog

February 10, 2015 at 10:07am

Washington National Guard 351st Aviation Support Battalion deploying to Kuwait

351st Aviation Support Battalion was honored in a deployment ceremony at the Washington National Guard Army Aviation Sustainment Facility #1 on JBLM, Feb. 8. Photo credit: Gary Lott

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Dozens of military helicopters were the background for an important ceremony that took place last weekend at the Washington National Guard's Flight Facility on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

That's because all eyes were on Washington National Guard soldiers from Detachment 1, B Company of the 351st Aviation Support Battalion.

Last summer, these servicemembers had an important role in Washington state by assisting with battling wildfires that plagued Central Washington. 

Bravo Company provided critical maintenance operations for the Guard's helicopters as they dropped 2.5 million gallons of water over the Carlton Complex and Chiwaukum Complex fires. The unit ensured the helicopters continued to operate by working long hours into the night.

This summer, these servicemembers will be tasked with another important role, but this time thousands of miles away in Kuwait.

The unit of more than 35 Washington National Guardsmen will perform aviation maintenance support operations while deployed.

During last weekend's ceremony, the deploying servicemembers were surrounded by their fellow service members, friends and family, who were shown a special slideshow of some of the many recent accomplishments of the 351st. Attendees were also treated to the national anthem and Army Song performed by the 133rd Army Band, and of course, cake!

The 351st cased its colors during the deployment ceremony as part of its preparation to deploy to Kuwait in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

This is the first deployment for the 351st and will be the first under the command of Capt. Daniel Clemons.

Along with the traditional casing of the colors and remarks from the commander, deployment ceremonies are also important venues to connect with the families of the deploying soldiers.

Military families serve, too, and are left to maintain their households and communities while their service member is deployed.

>>> Pfc. Aaron Hamrick cherishes a hug from his daughter during a deployment ceremony for members of the 351st Aviation Support Battalion, Feb. 8. Hamrick will be joined by more than 30 other members of his battalion for a deployment to Kuwait to perform aviation maintenance support operations. Photo credit: Gary Lott

Although families may initially feel as if they are being left behind, the reality is these families receive support and training before, during and even after deployments, as well as the security of 24/7 support throughout.

These are just a few of the major impacts that make Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Programs & Family Programs across the nation so crucial and impactful for those still serving from home.

Spouses and significant others were provided with various resources and contacts and given the opportunity to connect with and ask questions of Washington National Guard Family Programs staff members. Military youth were given USO deployment bears that allow them to insert a photo of their deploying parent.

The adjutant general for the Washington National Guard, Maj. Gen. Bret Daugherty, joined other general officers and commanders for the departure ceremony.

This ceremony not only provided support from their peers and bosses, but also provided service members with the security of knowing that their families will be taken care of during their deployment.

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