FORT POLK, La. — Deployment ceremonies are often bittersweet. They’re a time to recognize the bravery of Soldiers who answer their nation’s call of duty. They’re also a time filled with hugs, handshakes and tears as Soldiers say goodbye to Family and friends.
But there were no feelings of sadness for Bravo Company, 88th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, during a deployment ceremony, July 25 at 1st MEB gym.
Instead, Soldiers were in good spirits and motivated to complete their mission, according to B Co commander Maj. David Marshall.
“Many of the Soldiers have not deployed and the majority of them came into the Army to do great things for their country, so when they heard rumors about the mission, everyone was volunteering,” Marshall said. “They wanted their tour in the military to be meaningful.”
The maintenance company will become Task Force Zombie, providing logistical and engineering support for 3rd Special Forces Group as it expands its village stabilization operations in Afghanistan.
Lt. Col. Royce Edington, commander of 88th BSB, said the company’s training was jam-packed, with only seven weeks to prepare for the deployment. Usually units have six months. Edington said the unit completed live-fire exercises, theater-specific training, specialized training on palletized loading system trucks and training on Special Forces equipment.
“We also sent our food service Soldiers to Fort Bragg (N.C.) where they learned how to prepare food in the traditional halal method (foods that are allowed under Islamic dietary guidelines),” he said.
“Our chemical Soldiers were also sent to Fort Bragg to learn how to run a forensics lab on improvised explosive devices and other devices that are being used against our Soldiers.”
Col. David Thiesen, commander of 1st MEB, said the unit has done exceptionally well in a short period of time.
“Bravo Company was selected for this mission because of the great leadership between Major Marshall and First Sergeant Barlow,” Thiesen said.
“It’s a real strong organization. They’re going to support another unit, doing the same great things they’ve been doing here.”
Command Sgt. Maj. Edward Russell, 1st MEB, also believes Bravo Company was the right unit selected for the mission.
“The Department of the Army could have selected hundreds of other units for this mission, however they selected 88th BSB, which tells us we’re doing something right at the home of heroes,” Russell said. “We have a logistical company going on a Special Forces mission — that in itself is special, not only for the unit, but for the Fort Polk community.”
Edington said he has full confidence that TF Zombie Soldiers are ready to deploy and perform their mission.
“The Soldiers before you represent our best and I know they will do their best,” Edington said. “The 3rd Special Forces Group is lucky to have our Soldiers coming to support them, because our Soldiers are led and trained, unified in purpose, and have the support of their Families and the Fort Polk community.
“They will be a part of the winning ingredient in Afghanistan.”
Marshall’s spouse, Renita, said this is his third deployment and that she is more proud than sad that her husband is leaving.
“I’m really proud of him. He was just promoted to major and I’m proud that he’s actually getting the chance to do what he’s been training to do for a long time,” she said. “I’m sad that he’s going to be gone because I’m going to miss him, but I know that this is something that I signed on for. It’s his career.
“I’m looking forward to him going over there, doing what he has to do to take care of his company and bring them back safe,” she said.