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Army Reserve Soldiers of 456th Area Support Medical Company say goodbyes before upcoming ceremony

By Capt. Charles An | 3rd Medical Command Deployment Support | July 28, 2016

July 16, 2016 -- Most of the crowd stood up to get a better view of the formation of Soldiers that marched up while singing loudly, repeating the cadence of the 1st sergeant.  The crowd had been waiting anxiously under the hot New Hampshire sun. The crowd consisted of a U.S. Army general, congressional staff members, a U.S. Representative, a U.S. Senator, and even bagpipers. But most importantly the crowd was made up of the family members and friends of the Soldiers marching along.

When the Soldiers halted before the crowd, 1st Sgt. Dana Davis who was in charge of the formation, saluted his commander, Capt. Stanley Gerald, and announced that the more than 50 Soldiers of the 456th Area Support Medical Company (ASMC) were all present and ready.  Soon after the national anthem was played, the Soldiers rushed to join their families in the crowd.

The 456th ASMC, nicknamed “Spartan Medics,” are preparing to leave their families and their homes to deploy for nine months.  Before leaving, the 456th ASMC had a lunch barbecue on Saturday for their families and immediately after held a deployment ceremony.  

Senator Kelly Ayotte, Representative Frank Guinta, Brig. Gen. Jonathan Woodson from the 3rd Medical Command (Deployment Support), Mr. James Normand who is the U.S. Army Reserve Ambassador for New Hampshire, and various members and veterans group of the local community were in attendance to show their support.

“We know as what we see as challenges around the world right now, that your support of (Operation) Inherent Resolve will make a big difference for our country,” said Ayotte during her remarks to the Soldiers. “And making sure that our men and women in uniform, when they need that medical support, which we hope they don’t need, but we know you will be there for them. So thank you for your training, thank you for your preparedness for that day, and thank you for your willingness to serve our great nation.”

The 456th had only been activated since September 16, 2013 and by April 2015 they identified for contingency operation mission.  Just over a year later and under the command of Gerald and Davis, and the support of 1st Lieutenant Marissa Spitz, the executive officer of the company, the 456th are prepared to start and complete their upcoming mission.

“There’s been a lot of build-up,” said Sgt. Berry. “We’re ready to go.” Berry is an Army Reserve health care specialist with the unit.

The team that is preparing to deploy comprises of a variety of Soldiers who are medics, nurses, doctors and medical support personnel.  They are able to provide up to 72 hours of emergency treatment and stabilization medical support.  This entails of triage, treatment and disposition of patients.

“We vary from physicians to medics.  We have physician assistants, also nurse practitioners,” as Gerald describes of the many different Soldiers that make up the team that is deploying.

The uniqueness of the team is that nearly all of the Soldiers do their jobs as civilians on a daily basis, or their civilian jobs add to their skills in their roles as Soldiers in the Army Reserve.  “I’m also a registered nurse on the civilian side,” said Berry supporting this thought. 

The Soldiers that make up the team have a number of seasoned veterans, as well as for some they will be leaving home on deployment for the first time.  All of them are leaving loved ones during their time overseas.

Ayotte recognized the thought of Soldiers’ families waiting for their loved ones returning from deployment when she said, “I’ll never forget when my husband deployed to the Middle East.  He served in the Iraq war, and the happiest day in my life was when he returned.” Ayotte is a U.S. Senator for New Hampshire.

Representative Frank Guinta also echoed similar thoughts by saying, “And it’s important for also family and friends of our Soldiers that are departing to know how much we appreciate not just their heart and dedication, but what you’re giving up, too, because you’re serving your country just as your loved one is.” Guinta is the U.S. Representative for the 1st District of New Hampshire.

Brig. Gen. Woodson, deputy commanding general for the 3rd Medical Command (Deployment Support), provided words of encouragement to the deploying Soldiers. 

“I’ve personally had about five deployments, and I understand what’s ahead of you in terms of those ‘dog days,’ those trying times, those long hours, but the mission is noble,” said Woodson. “You need to understand that the last 15 years we’ve achieved the lowest disease rate in the history of warfare because of people like you, your training and your expertise.”

 “And this has changed the dynamics from one of disability to ability,” added Woodson regarding the medical support that the 456th will provide and of previous military medical efforts during recent times that has changed the future of veterans of war. 

“You should be proud of your mission. You should be proud of your skills. You should be proud of what you do every day because you are among America’s best,” expressed Woodson.

Gerald ended the ceremony by saying, “I’ve never been so honored and proud to serve with such a high-speed unit.”


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