Oklahoma Says Goodbye To Soldiers Heading To Afghanistan

Tuesday, February 15th 2011, 12:59 pm
By: News 9

Jon Jordan, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Friends and family of the 3,200 Oklahoma National Guard gathered inside the Oklahoma City Arena and Cox Convention Center to say good bye to their sons, daughters, mothers, and fathers who will spend the next year on active-duty with 9 months spent on the ground in Afghanistan.

For the past year, the 45th Brigade Special Troops Battalion has been preparing for this mission and will complete additional training at Camp Gruber in Oklahoma and Camp Shelby in Mississippi before the Oklahoma National Guardsmen deploy to Afghanistan.

During deployment the 45 Infantry Brigade Combat Team commanded by Col. Joel Ward of Tulsa will be conducting full-spectrum operations, meaning the soldiers will be involved in combat through four different areas including offense, defense, stability, and civil support. More specifically military officials with the 45th said "[our] mission is to improve relations with the Afghan people while perusing America's enemies."

The 45th is a light Infantry Brigade Combat Team meaning much of the Oklahoma National Guardsmen will be spending their time moving through battle spaces on foot and in light vehicles such as Humvees, MRAPs (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles) and other small, lightly armored vehicles.

The 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team is headquartered at the new Armed Forces Reserve Center in Norman with other divisions located in Sand Springs, Stillwater, Durant, Norman and Chandler.

The 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team is no stranger to combat. The 45th has fought in World War II and the Korean War and is comprised of citizen soldiers from Oklahoma, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona.

Despite a lengthy Afghan war, a majority of the 45th will be making their first tour. On the other end, some soldiers will be making their fourth deployment.

It will be the first deployment for First Liutentent Josh Woods, who is also preparing for another first-- the birth of his child.

"This is a very difficult time for us because my wife is expecting, however, her and I both feel it is very important to feel the needs of our nation and Oklahoma," Woods said.