Vt Guard Moves Closer to Big Deployment - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Vt Guard Moves Closer to Big Deployment

Burlington, Vermont - October 25, 2009

For months now, the Vermont Army National Guard has been preparing to send 1400 soldiers to Afghanistan. And a first group left for training exercises Sunday as the big deployment draws closer.

A chartered Boeing 747 pulled up on the tarmac outside the Army Guard's flight center -- where 300 soldiers waited for boarding. It's rare when a passenger plane this large stops here. And there will be more like it later this week to move the soldiers -- and their gear -- to Fort Polk in Louisiana, where they will get three weeks of advanced training before they actually depart for Afghanistan.

Already the Vermonters have been training for over a year. 2nd Lt. Tim Larkham said, "I can't tell you how many nights and how many emails that have been going back and forth just to prepare proper training schedules, make sure all the gear's packed and stowed, ready to go. And then also make sure we're taking care of the families too, because that's an important part of it."

Most of the soldiers have been deployed before. They bring accumulated knowledge that will be invaluable to the multinational Brigade they will serve with, known as Task Force Phoenix. Sgt. Maj. Stephen Lunna said, "In this group today I would say very close to three-quarters of them, most of 'em this is their second if not third -- some of 'em even their fourth deployments. So a wealth of experience we're taking this time."

It's not time yet for final goodbyes. Almost all of the Vermonters are due back home in time for Thanksgiving. But then they'll be off for even more training, followed by the actual deployment. That's when a one-year clock starts ticking on Mission Afghanistan.

Andy Potter - WCAX News

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