By Maj. Emilio Suazo
Utah Army National Guard
The 2-222nd Field Artillery Battalion, “Triple Deuce,” held a reunion for all current and former members of the unit March 19, 2022, at the Stanley A. Staheli Readiness Center in St. George, Utah.
This event marks the fifth time in the last eight years that the group has rallied to reunite and reflect on their time spent in service to the nation, state, and community of Southern Utah.
The Triple Deuce is the only battalion-size element of the Utah Army National Guard south of Spanish Fork and has units serving in Richfield, Beaver, Cedar City, and Saint George. As a result of living and working in these small communities they have enjoyed a tremendous amount of support from the citizens in which they serve and represent.
During the reunion, former Soldiers could be seen talking and laughing together regardless of rank, deployments, time in service, or era as the former Soldiers found common ground in their shared experience as artillerymen. The service times ranged from more than 30 years to six years of service, but you wouldn’t have known it unless you asked specifically.
Former battalion commanders and gunners came together to share stories of their time in the battalion which spanned from the early 1980’s through recent deployments during the Global War on Terrorism. The members shared in the storied history of the battalion which includes the Miracle of Gapyeong, South Korea, 2002 Winter Olympics, mobilization to Joint Base Lewis-McChord in 2003, Ramadi, Iraq in 2005, Baghdad, Iraq in 2011 and most recently the Capitol Response Mission in 2021.
What makes the battalion unique is that most of the Soldiers grew up in Southern Utah and still live in the surrounding communities raising their families. In many cases, families have served for multiple generations in the unit. For example, Adrian Hinton and his three sons, Russel, Todd, and Jason all served in the battalion at the same time in the early 2000’s.
Mr. Hinton Senior recalled:
“We would have a lot of fun together and would also put in a lot of work together on drill weekends.”
The Hinton’s story is just one example of a family spirit of service that is not uncommon in the battalion.
The driving force and man behind the scenes responsible for putting the reunion together is Kelly Kleinman. He is relentless in seeking out former members of the battalion to afford them the opportunity to get together and remember their time in uniform.
Kleinman loudly proclaimed:
“We are a brotherhood that all lost our hearing together!
He understands that as many Soldiers age, they weren’t able to travel to St. George for this reunion. However, this didn’t stop Mr. Kleinman from coming to them, as he has planned another reunion event later this year in Richfield, Utah to accommodate those who couldn’t drive to Saint George.
Another former member of the Triple Deuce in attendance who understands the importance of shared history and traditions was retired Col. Dan Roberts. As the former battalion commander, he was critical in generating interest for a documentary covering the Miracle of Gapyeong and later a stone memorial to recognize the 70th anniversary of the battle which was dedicated in Cedar City, Utah.
When Roberts was asked why events like this are important and so heavily attended his response was simple:
“The Guard is one of the most important parts of my life and it provided purpose in all of our lives.”
Roberts stressed the importance of the bonds formed while in uniform and out of uniform by saying “relationships are everything…everything.”
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