November 8, 2016 –
FORT BUCHANAN, Puerto Rico - Approximately ten Army Reserve Soldiers from the 215th Military Police Company said good-bye to their family and loved ones at the Luis Munoz Marin Airport in San Juan, Puerto Rico on November 8.
The small detachment is headed to Texas for additional training before embarking on their law and order and customs mission in Romania. “I feel very proud and excited,” said 1st Lt. Eduardo Rivera, 215th commander. “I am pretty confident with the professionalism we have as a team. This deployment is a great opportunity and a great way for us to leave a legacy with Europe Command for any future missions that the 1st Mission Support Command or MP companies will have.”
In anticipation of their departure, the unit held a farewell ceremony where their leadership, family, and friends united to recognize their hard work and upcoming deployment. “We have been training since July with the Department of Emergency Services on Fort Buchanan,” said Rivera. “I feel very confident in our abilities because of our training and the personal skills my team brings from their civilian jobs.”
Rivera mentioned that majority of his team works for local law enforcement agencies including Fort Buchanan Police, Puerto Rico Police Department and some in federal law enforcement. All but one have deployed, so there is a wealth of knowledge within the unit.
“I feel great, we have a great group of Soldiers going on this deployment,” said Capt. Peter Ray Lopez, Law and Order officer in charge. “Most of us have been deployed before. We have trained for this, and I believe we are going to do a great job. I anticipate a great deployment and we will return with great success.”
“Our mission will consist of customs and law and order,” explained Lopez. “Before Soldiers head to Iraq or Afghanistan, they will stop in Romania for their equipment issue. On their way back to the United States, they will undergo the customs process and we will be ensuring that they do not bring back anything that they shouldn’t. We will also be working with the Romanian Air Force providing Law and Order.”
Another opportunity for deployment is something that Sgt. Lizette Hernandez, Force Protection noncommissioned officer in charge, could not resist. “I am a deployment junkie,” said Hernandez. "Every time I get the chance to deploy, I will say yes and go on that deployment.”
This will be Hernandez’ fifth deployment, and she is hopeful that her upcoming training at mobilization station will increase the unit’s readiness enabling them to be mission capable. For Spec. Darian Vigo, he is anxious about his first deployment.
“I am anxious, but I am looking forward to this mobilization; I know that I will learn a lot,” said Vigo. “I am leaving with an excellent group of people, most of them are noncommissioned officers. The majority of the team has multiple deployments, so that will help with our mission. There is a lot of experience within the unit, so I know I am going to learn a lot and I will be ok.”
During the Farewell Ceremony, Master Sgt. Victor Labrador, the company first sergeant, reminded the Soldiers of who they represent. “Remember, we are not only representing the U.S. Army, but we are also representing the 'Garita' and the 1st Mission Support Command,” said Labrador. “Our 'Garita' patch is recognized worldwide, and now we will be representing it in Romania, so I am counting on your support and the support of our families.”
Having the support of family and friends is crucial during deployments and mobilizations. “I feel anxious and with mixed emotions,” said Sgt. Juan Carlos Perez’ wife, Maria E. Gonzalez. “Today is a great opportunity to share with the family but the moment of him leaving is getting closer. I will probably go to my visit my parents often while he is away. I have my siblings and nephews I can spend time with.”
Rivera reiterated the importance of the family bond. “It keeps us together; spiritually and emotionally we are one together,” said Rivera. We will still be together as a family and as a team no matter where we go.” He also thanked the family members for their continued support during their pre-mobilization training and asked that they keep supporting them while they are away.
Soldiers arrived one by one with their families at the airport, dreading the moment that they would say goodbye to their loved one for the next several months.
“I am in the military myself, and I have deployed in the past, but it is not as easy being on the other side and watching your son leave,” said Harry Vigo, father of Spec. Vigo. “This is his first mobilization, and it is not as easy as I thought it would be. I feel very confident in his unit, but that doesn’t take away the feeling of knowing we will be without him for an extended period of time.”
Eraina Vigo, Spec. Vigo’s mother expressed her feelings of having her only son deploy. “It is very difficult because this is the first time that he will be leaving like this,” said Mrs. Vigo. “It shouldn’t be because I have experienced this with my husband, but it isn’t the same thing.”
Vigo’s parents plan on staying busy while their son is deployed and will wait for the day that he calls. “There is a lot of technology out there that will keep us connected, like when he went to basic training, but it won’t be the same,” said his father. “This time he will be gone much longer.”
Vigo will be promoted to sergeant during his deployment and even though his father is extremely proud of his accomplishments, he feels bittersweet as he will not be present. “I am very proud to know that he will make sergeant soon,” said Mr. Vigo. “The fact that I will not be there for him when he gets his rank is tough.” Despite their feeling of sadness as their son heads to his first deployment, they know he will return home safely.
“We always tell him to stay strong, keep his head up and don’t quit,” said Mr. Vigos. “I trust that they will bring him back to me in one piece."
Before the unit left their loved ones to go through security, they received a visit from the 1st Mission Support Command commander, Brig. Gen. Alberto C. Rosende.
“Thank you for being here with us supporting your Soldiers,” said Rosende to the family and friends present. “I know they are prepared to fulfill their mission. You are our family, and we will support you when you least need us and when you most need us. I am confident that they will be successful in their mission.”
To the Soldiers, Rosende reminded them always to keep their eyes on each other and made sure they knew who their battle buddy is. “This is going to be an exciting time, a demanding time, and you have to stay focused,” said Rosende. “The most important thing you can do is meet your mission but take care of each other. Mission first, Soldiers Always.”
“Remember to exercise, you need to take care of your body, mind, and soul,” continued Rosende. “And don’t forget to keep in touch with your family. You will change while you away so make sure you stay engaged and connect with them as often as possible.”