Soldiers of the 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade share their pre-deployment thoughts

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Photos provided by 149th MEB Public Affairs

Story by Lt. Col. Kirk Hilbrecht, Director of Public Affairs, Kentucky National Guard and Sgt. 1st Class Charles Newton, 149th MEB PAO

NOTE: Video footage of the 149th in training can be viewed at:  http://dvidshub.net/r/g8m6je

Members of Kentucky's 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade prepare to deploy to Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn.

LOUISVILLE, Ky (3 June 2011) — As Kentucky’s 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade prepares for the largest deployment of Kentucky troops since WWII, a few Soldiers shared their predeployment thoughts with the Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs.

These three Soldiers, along with  1,300 Soldiers from all over the Commonwealth, will deploy in support of Operation New Dawn; the official end to combat operations by United States forces in Iraq.

While in Theatre, the 149th will  be joined by Guardsmen from Oregon, Utah and Virginia, forming ‘Task Force Legion’, a combative unit of approximately 2,600 Soldiers in all.

Task Force Legion will conduct security force, base defense operations and convoy security operations in support of United States Forces-Iraq’s mission to provide stability as Iraqi Security Forces build a foundation capability to defend against external threats.

Since Sept. 11, nearly 14,000 Kentucky National Guard Soldiers and Airmen have mobilized in support of the Global War on Terror. The Kentucky National Guard currently has more than 1,500 troops deployed worldwide, including the 149th MEB.

SECOND LIEUTENANT PAIGE YOUNG, 149th MEB, KENTUCKY ARMY NATIONAL GUARD

2nd. Lt. PAIGE YOUNG, 149th MEB, KENTUCKY ARMY NATIONAL GUARD

2nd Lt. Paige Young from the 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade is preparing for her first deployment to Iraq.  Young, a Signal Officer, will act as an operations officer in charge of a base in Iraq. Two days before graduating from Signal Basic Officer Leadership Course, Young was informed of her deployment.

“Going into a deployment immediately after graduating is a good thing,” she said.  “This will be the best on-the -job training. I will get the garrison experience along with the technical and signal training and I feel that’s a great mix for me.”

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FIRST SERGEANT RICHARD SOUTHARD, 149th MEB, KENTUCKY ARMY NATIONAL GUARD

1st Sgt. RICHARD SOUTHARD, 149th MEB, KENTUCKY ARMY NATIONAL GUARD

1st Sgt. Richard Southard prepares for his fourth overseas deployment with the Kentucky National Guard. As the First Sergeant for the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, Southard is looking forward to deploying with his fellow Citizen-Soldiers and Kentuckians.

During his last deployment to Afghanistan,  Southard worked as an embedded trainer with Afghan soldiers.

“It was quite a unique experience” Southard said, “You are a team of eight Soldiers and I was the only one from Kentucky, ” Southard said. “We worked with several hundred Afghans during that mission.”

Southard earned a Bronze Star with Valor Device for his actions in Afghanistan.

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SPECIALIST ANDREA SIMS, 149th MEB, KENTUCKY ARMY NATIONAL GUARD

SPC. ANDREA SIMS, 149th MEB, KENTUCKY ARMY NATIONAL GUARD

Spc. Andrea Sims, supply specialist, has been in the Kentucky National Guard for over a decade. This deployment with the 149th MEB will be her first overseas deployment.

“I’m really looking forward to gaining a lot of experience on this deployment, ” Sims said. “I’m ready to go and I’m happy about it.”

Back home, Sims is often asked by a sales clerk at her favorite shop whether Sims had ‘been to the sandbox’.

“I get tired of hearing that same question over and over,” Sims said. “Now I will be able to answer that with a ‘Yes!’”

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