By Sgt 1st Class John Etheridge
Utah Army National Guard
In a scaled back event due to COVID-19 precautions, 24 Soldiers from the 141st Military Intelligence Battalion, 300th Military Intelligence Brigade, said a final farewell during a ceremony Dec. 10, 2020, at the Utah National Guard’s Orem Readiness Center as they prepare to depart for an overseas deployment.
The small group of attendees spaced themselves throughout the drill hall for the ceremony which included, playing of the National Anthem and a special recognition of the deploying Soldiers.
The distinguished speakers from the Utah National Guard included Brig. Gen Tyler Smith, assistant adjutant general—Army; Col. Shahram A. Takmili, 300th Military Intelligence Brigade commander; and the 141st command team Lt. Col. Jeremy Stevenson and Command Sgt. Maj. Thomas Price.
The speakers expressed their gratitude to the Soldiers and their families for their service and commitment and spoke on the significance of the Soldier’s families for the success of the mission.
“To the families, you actually have the hard job because your Soldier is going off to have this great adventure while you are at home taking care of things,” said Smith in his remarks to the audience. “I want to commend you for your bravery and for your mental toughness.”
Stevenson, the 141st battalion commander, stated that the Soldier’s mission success and family success has been the priority for the battalion over the last year and it will continue through the deployment.
“Our goal over the next year is to continue to make you the number one priority and ensure that the Soldiers have what they need downrange, and that your families have the support they need here at home,” Stevenson said.
The deploying detachment is comprised of human intelligence and counterintelligence Soldiers and tasked to provide force protection support to ground forces during a 12-month deployment in the U.S. Central Command area of operations.
“Their main responsibility is to collect information about potential threats to the U.S. and partner forces,” said Stevenson. “It is a very important job. They get to help protect the lives of their fellow service members.”
Even though the pandemic has presented some challenges, the group trained heavily over the last year to prepare for the deployment.
“Getting to know the Soldiers over the last year and training together has set us up for success,” said Sgt. 1st Class Ron Meacham, a human intelligence team leader. “Even with COVID, we were able to complete our training, and get to know everyone’s strengths.”
This is Meacham’s third deployment and he said that he is sharing his experience with the Soldiers who have not deployed to help them know what to expect and to aid them in setting their families up for success while they are away.
More than half of the Soldiers from the detachment have never deployed. This is the first time for Sgt. Alina Rodriguez, a counterintelligence agent with the 141st and mother of two. She said that she has been open with her children about her upcoming deployment and that they are prepared for her absence. Rodriguez, who came to the United States from Mexico when she was 15 years old, looks forward to the deployment and the opportunity to work in her position and serve her country.
“I have waited my whole eight-year career to deploy. I feel like not only do I have a good deployment, I also have a good team,” said Rodriguez. “I am so blessed to be here and to serve this country.”
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