Soldiers depart for unique mission in Afghanistan

Story and photos by: 1st Lt. Gus LaFontaine, 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

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Capt. Chad Vance of the 613th Engineer Facilities Detachment kisses his son Gage as wife Krissy and son Gavin look on. The unit departed Springfield, Ky for Afghanistan on June 20, 2012 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (Kentucky National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Gus LaFontaine)

SPRINGFIELD, Ky. — Soldiers of the 613th Engineer Facilities Detachment are Kentucky’s latest Soldiers to deploy in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.  Family and friends said temporary goodbyes to their loved ones during a departure ceremony held at the River of Life Community Church in Springfield, Ky., June 20.  Speakers included Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, Kentucky’s Adjutant General, State Senator Jimmy Higdon and Col. Steven King, commander of the 613th.

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Soldiers of the 613th Engineer Facilities Detachment stand at attention during the unit’s departure ceremony. The unit departed Springfield, Ky. for Afghanistan on June 20, 2012 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (Kentucky National Guard photo by 1st Lt. Gus LaFontaine)

The mission of the 613th is to provide training, mentorship and synchronization of operation and maintenance efforts at Afghan National Security Force sites.  Col. King commands the detachment of 15 Soldiers.  Despite the size of the detachment, the 613th has a big mission ahead.

“While the 613th is a small unit, their mission is huge and their impact on the U.S. Army’s mission in Afghanistan will be immense,” said Tonini.

The larger impact may be the absence of family members at home, and some Kentucky families are all to used to the sacrifices of answering their nation’s call to duty.

Krissy Vance, wife of Capt. Chad Vance and mother of their two sons Gavin and Gage, has a perspective most military wives don’t.  In 2004 she deployed to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  Now, she will experience a deployment as a military wife instead of a Soldier.

“Having deployed will help me support Chad better, “ she said.  “I understand how busy it can be and some of the discomforts associated with a deployment.  I will do my best to support him while he is away.”

While he is away, Vance’s efforts will not only be to provide training and mentorship but also to aid in transitional efforts to the Afghan National Army.  One of the primary goals of the 613th is to protect the investment in facilities and teach Afghan’s how to operate and maintain infrastructure.  The 613th will work closely and personally with Afghan’s in support of these goals.

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Col. Steven King, commander of the 613th Engineer Facilities Detachment, speaks during the unit’s departure ceremony. The unit departed Springfield, Ky. for Afghanistan on June 20, 2012 in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. (KYNG photo by 1st Lt. Gus LaFontaine)

To accomplish such an important mission the 613th assembled a highly-skilled team of industrial, mechanical, construction, civil and environmental engineers as well as logistical, contracting and resource managers.  Their proficiency has already been field tested with projects at Wendell H. Ford Regional Training Center (WHFRTC) and Boone National Guard Center here in Kentucky.  The 613th team constructed the Tank Pad Memorial at WHFRTC and designed the future National Guard Memorial on Boone Center giving them an opportunity to gain valuable experience for their mission ahead.

Tonini recognized the valuable contributions of the 613th.

“Without a doubt this team represents the Kentucky Guard slogan, ‘Unbridled Service’.”

Krissy Vance will sorely miss one of those team members.  In speaking of her husband and the father of her two children she said, “He’s my best friend. I will miss him a lot.”

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