PA National Guard troops honored in departure ceremony
HARRISBURG, Pa. – Approximately 500 Soldiers with 28th Infantry Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, Pennsylvania National Guard, were honored in a ceremony today as they prepare to depart for a deployment to the Middle East in support of Operation Spartan Shield (OSS).
The 28th Infantry Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion will be the third National Guard unit to provide mission command for several thousand additional troops supporting OSS. This mission includes units conducting theater security cooperative activities and partnership operations in several countries throughout the Middle East.
“In 1918, the 28th Division earned its nickname, the Iron Division, in the fierce fighting of World War I,” said Maj. Gen. Tony Carrelli, Pennsylvania’s adjutant general. “Now, a century later, you embark on this major commitment to defend freedom and liberty throughout the world. You join more than 35,000 other members of the Pennsylvania National Guard that have deployed and sacrificed since 9/11.”
Additionally, the headquarters will conduct battle staff training directly with partner nation military units to further increase interoperability of U.S. military units and allied military units operating in the region. The headquarters battalion will be part of the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.
“I recognize that balancing the demands of school and work while keeping yourself ready to deploy is not an easy thing, but you do it with courage, you do it with grace and determination,” said Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf.
Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf, Maj. Gen. Tony Carrelli, Pennsylvania’s adjutant general, Maj. Gen. Andrew P. Schafer Jr., commander of the 28th Infantry Division, other distinguished guests, and Soldiers’ friends and families were present for the departure ceremony at the historic Zembo Shrine in Harrisburg.
Established in 1879, the 28th Infantry Division is the oldest division in the U.S. Army. The last time the entire division headquarters mobilized was in preparation for the Korean Conflict. However, elements of the headquarters were deployed in 2002 and 2003 to lead the NATO peacekeeping missions in Kosovo and Bosnia.
“Leaving family, friends and careers is never easy, but your Soldiers are prepared to answer the call,” said 28th Infantry Division Commander Maj. Gen. Andrew P. Schafer Jr. “I have full faith and confidence in the Soldiers and officers of the division, that they will accomplish the mission proudly.”
This is the headquarters’ first deployment to the Middle East, though many members have previously deployed with other units in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Today, most importantly, I want to thank you, the members of the 28th Infantry Division, for your willingness to serve,” said Wolf.
Deployment ceremonies honor the courage needed both by those who serve and the families, friends and employers who support them.