DES MOINES, Iowa –
Hundreds gathered to bid farewell to 250 Army Reserve Soldiers assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) at a farewell ceremony held at the Lincoln High School Roundhouse July 7, 2019.
The headquarters will deploy to the Middle East in support of Operations Spartan Shield, Inherent Resolve, and Freedom Sentinel, where it will assume responsibility for providing sustainment support to units operating in the United States Central Command area of operations.
Senators Chuck Grassley and Joni Ernst, United States Army Reserve Ambassador Dale Andres, and Mayor Pro Tem Bill Gray joined military leadership during the ceremony to address Soldiers, families, and friends.
“This mission is perhaps the most challenging thing they’ve been asked to do in their Army career,” said Brig. Gen. Howard C.W. Geck, commanding general, 103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary).
Many of the Soldiers will be embarking on their first deployment, while others have completed three or more deployments.
“We are committed to mission success and taking care of one another as a family,” said Geck.
Soldiers from 32 states and other geographic regions have come together to form a cohesive team and deploy as Cactus Soldiers.
The unit has a storied history with roots dating back to 1921, Geck noted. Most recently, the headquarters deployed to Iraq from 2010-2011 in support of Operations Iraqi Freedom and New Dawn. Originally designated as the 103rd Infantry Division, Cactus Soldiers deployed to Europe in World War II and participated in the Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe Campaigns.
Army Reserve units integrate training into their monthly training assemblies and annual training periods in addition to individual training that Soldiers complete at resident military schools and electronic based distance learning. The unit has been preparing for this mission for months, refining its training plan and integrating newly transferred Soldiers each month. In the days leading up to the ceremony, Soldiers completed final homestation tasks and prepared their equipment for mission.
Soldiers were released to spend the afternoon with their family and friends following the ceremony. Many attended the Iowa Cubs afternoon game, where the unit was honored as part of the Iowa Cubs military appreciation initiative. 1st Lt. Dau D. Jok threw the first pitch of the game. Jok serves as the aide-de-camp for the commanding general, 103rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary).
The unit departed to Fort Hood, Texas July 8 to complete pre-deployment training requirements prior to deploying overseas.