More than 120 Alaska Army National Guardsmen said goodbye to family and friends at a departure ceremony held Saturday, Nov. 26 at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.
The soldiers of B Company, 1st Battalion, 143rd Infantry (Airborne) Regiment are headed to Camp Atterbury Joint Maneuver Training Center in Indiana before deploying to Afghanistan for a year. At Camp Atterbury, the soldiers will receive their final pre-mobilization and validation training, according to a press release.
In Afghanistan, the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division will be conducting operations in order to support and increase the security of Afghan national forces, said First Sgt. Aaron Spahl.
The approximately 3,500 troops, whose nickname is the “Spartans,” will focus on training and mentoring Afghan national forces, Spahl said.
Heading into hostile territory is nothing new for Brian Flanagan, a member of the Army's 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, who is about to ship out on his fourth tour of duty overseas. But this time around, leaving home will be especially tough.
"Every one has its own challenges," Flanagan said shortly before a deployment ceremony for the 3,500-member brigade at the Sullivan Arena in Anchorage on Tuesday, Nov. 29.
This time around, Flanagan will be leaving not just the safety of home, but a newborn son, 3-month-old Colin.
Lt. Col. David Piffarerio, 302nd Fighter Squadron commander, flew his 1,000 flight hour in the F-22 Raptor here Nov. 4, making him the first Air Force pilot to do so.
“This is a great milestone for the pilots, maintainers and contractors working on the jet and the F-22 program as a whole,” said Piffarerio. “The aircraft is maturing and getting better the more we fly and perform maintenance on it.”
Staff Sgt. Hank Robinson, 525th Aircraft Maintenance Unit crew chief, launched Piffarerio on his sortie today, but was focused on ensuring it was a safe flight.
Before troops from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson are deployed for dangerous duty in Afghanistan for a year, Deborah Bonito wants them to have a day of fun.
On Saturday, Nov. 19, Bonito — Sen. Mark Begich’s wife — and the Armed Services YMCA of Alaska are hosting a sendoff event at JBER for the troops of the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division and their families.