Military leaders, celebrities bid farewell to Task Force Legion

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Story and photos by Staff Sgt. Michael J. Oliver, Kentucky Guard Public Affairs Office

149th Camp Atterbury USO fairwell send off

Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini addresses the men and women of the 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade "Task Force Legion" at Camp Atterbury, Ind., July 27. (photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Oliver, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office)

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Click here for the National Public Radio story on how these deploying Soldiers deal with their civilian employment.

Click here for a video story on this event produced by Maj. Lisa Kopczynski, Camp Atterbury Public Affairs.

CAMP ATTERBURY, Ind. — Military leaders and celebrities joined together for a  USO farewell event in honor of the 2,600 members of 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade (Task Force Legion) at Camp Atterbury, Ind., July 27.  The 149th MEB deploys to Iraq later this week.

149th Camp Atterbury USO fairwell send off

Indy car driver JR Hildebrand was one of the celebrities on hand to bid the Soldiers of Task Force Legion good luck on their upcoming deployment. (photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Oliver, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office)

Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, Kentucky Adjutant General, Maj. Gen.  Daniel E. Long, Jr., Virginia Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Brian L. Tarbet, Utah Adjutant General were among the first to bid farewell to the men and women of Task Force Legion.

Also on hand to show their support were Sloan Gibson, president of the USO, Leeann Tweeden, host of NBC poker after dark and the USO Homefront Concert, John Barnes, owner of Panther Racing, and Indy car driver #4 JR Hildebrand.

Tweeden, the wife of an Air National Guard officer, was emotional as she addressed the troops, saying “As person that doesn’t wear the uniform, I’m so proud to be an American because of  what you Citizen-Soldiers do for our country.”

The task force units from all three states have been training for over a year to prepare for their mission in support of Operation New Dawn.  While in Iraq the Soldiers will conduct security force, base defense operations and convoy security operations throughout the United States Forces-Iraq area of responsibility.

Approximately 1,200 of the troops are from the Kentucky Army National Guard, including the 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry (Eastern Kentucky) and the 617th Military Police Company (Louisville).

“Deploying is not a new concept to the men and women of this brigade,” said Col. Scott Campbell, 149th MEB Commander. “Many have deployed multiple times since 9/11. Although it is never easy to leave families, friends, jobs, and communities, with the support of the citizens of the Commonwealth our Soldiers are committed to seeing this historic mission to a successful conclusion.”

149th Camp Atterbury USO fairwell send off

Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini got a little help from Leann Tweeden, host of Poker After Dark and USO Homefront Concert, in greeting the troops. (photo by Staff Sgt. Michael Oliver, Kentucky National Guard Public Affairs Office)

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