SIMI VALLEY, Calif. –
On a very unusually hot summer day with record-breaking temperatures in the Los Angeles area, Soldiers of the 420th Movement Control Battalion stood tall and proudly in formation before dozens of family and friends for their deployment ceremony in Simi Valley, California, July 7, 2018.
U.S. Army Reserve Soldiers from the Sherman Oaks, California-based unit are deploying to Kuwait for nine months in support of Operation Enduring Freedom Spartan Shield where they will provide critical transportation support, to include real-time tracking of cargo, personnel, and the movement of equipment while in theater.
Operation Spartan Shield’s overall mission is to build partner capacity in the Middle East aimed at promoting regional self-reliance and increased security.
“Your training will serve you well,” said Brig. Gen. Dianne Del Rosso, commanding general of the 311th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) based in Los Angeles, as she addressed the Soldiers in front of their loved ones.
The level of experience for the team varies from those with multiple deployments to some never having deployed before. For Spc. Zowie Sprague, this will be her second deployment and she’s more than ready.
“I’m excited. I know my job real well [compared to my first deployment] and I’m looking forward to getting even more experience and beating my expectations.”
One leader after another spoke highly of the Soldiers and the training they have gone through in preparation for the deployment and also the impact of the very important mission ahead of them.
“For a lot of you, your lives are going to change forever. I see mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, sons and daughters in this formation. Deployment marks the hallmark of your career,” said Col. Chris Barra, commander of the 304th Sustainment Brigade in Riverside, California.
The words of encouragement and recognition did not go unnoticed by the deploying Soldiers who said it means a lot as they get ready to head off for their mission and watch out for their battle buddies.
“I’m looking forward to it. I’m looking forward to doing my job to support my fellow Soldiers that are pushing forward,” said Sgt. Timothy Mauricio, a supply specialist with the unit.
While the troops know they have a very important task ahead of them, today’s theme was all about family before they head to the Middle East.
“Family is the most important thing back home. The family support is critical. When these Soldiers go overseas…it’s that connection back to the United States that really matters to these Soldiers,” said Lt. Col. Leo Karanikolas, commander of the 420th MCB. Karanikolas was promoted just before the ceremony and said it’s an honor to be leading this group of Soldiers.
“I am proud [of them] as their commander.”
When it comes to serving that’s why I do it to “serve my country for my kids and fellow Americans,” added Sgt. Mauricio.
Talking directly to family members, Brig. Gen. Del Rosso mentioned how loved ones may not actually wear the uniform but they also serve, and that they should never forgot the important role they play.
“We could not do our mission without your support and love.”
They’re my rock and I couldn’t do it without them. I do this because of them. They keep me going and motivate me mentioned another Soldier.
Turning to the troops Brig. Gen. Del Rosso said, “I know you all will do us proud…God speed and be safe.”