From tears to training for Morgan’s Men

Story by Sgt. Bryan Ploughe, 1/623rd Public Affairs

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Soldiers of the 1/623rd gather for an evening briefing during an exercise at Camp Shelby, Miss., Jan. 17, 2013. The unit is in the middle of their pre-deployment training prior to mobilization to Jordan this year. (KYNG photo by 1st Lt. Adam Jaggers)

CAMP SHELBY, Miss. —  January 5 marked another milestone for the Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 623d Field Artillery, in their long lineage of supporting missions stateside and around the world.

As Morgan’s Men assembled and roll call was conducted, family members stood close by with tear filled eyes. The family members were about to see their Soldiers load buses and depart for the journey to Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center in Mississippi. The Soldiers will conduct training to prepare for mobilization to Jordan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

For many Soldiers this is their first deployment, but there is also a lot of experience going as well. This was very evident as the veterans comforted and reassured those “first timers.”   Spc. Eli Dennis is one of those first timers. He said deploying overseas is a part of the job he enlisted to do to serve his country. Dennis is proud to serve with the 1/623rd family and said his own family back at home has helped him along the way.

“My family really supported me through the pre-mobilization process and with a strong network of friends and family, it has really enhanced my desire to serve,” said Dennis.

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Members of the 1st Battalion, 623rd Field Artillery conduct medical evacuations during training while at Camp Shelby Miss., Jan. 12, 2013. The Soldiers trained in a wide variety of tasks in preparation for deployment to Jordan.(KYNG photo by Capt. John Allen)

Once the Soldiers reached Camp Shelby, they hit the ground running. First they had to go through and verify that all of their administrative papers were correct, from powers of attorneys to their life insurance to verifying that their pay was correct. Once the SRP (Soldier Readiness Program) was complete it was time to become medically qualified to deploy. Soldiers were checked from head to toe and shots were given to protect the Soldiers from possible viruses and illnesses that some foreign countries harbor.

Now that the “hurry up and wait” is over, the Soldiers are ready to take the field to complete their field training exercises. The first is a three-day window, that will cover a variety of tasks that pertain to forward operating base operations that the Soldiers will be conducting while in Jordan.

“Although the weather has been cold and rainy…the levels of motivation, and morale are unmatched in any other deployment I have been a part of previously,” said Sgt. Patrick Hammer from Alpha Battery in Tompkinsville, Ky.

When asked about how things were going from a Commanders point of view, Lt. Col. Timothy Fanter said, “These Soldiers have all displayed a level of enthusiasm and drive that a person in my position rarely gets see many times in their career. I am fortunate to be a part of this unique organization and the history of it.”

“Although, the 1/623 is a field artillery unit, their last deployment as a field artillery unit was during Desert Storm in 1990-91. Our soldiers are experts at fitting to the needs of the Army including artillery, convoy operations, detainee operations and now military to military training,” said Capt. Kevin Massengill of Headquarters, Headquarters Battery in Glasgow, Ky.  “The Soldiers are looking forward to the mission and the experiences it may include.”

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Members of the 1st Battalion, 623rd Field Artillery prepare to load buses in Glasgow, Ky., Jan. 5, 2013. The unit traveled to Camp Shelby, Miss., to conduct pre-mob training for their upcoming mission to Jordan.(KYNG photo by Sgt. Bryan Ploughe)

Maj. Larry Gearlds, administrative officer said, “The administrative and medical support planning and the training that was conducted, prior to the unit reaching Mississippi, played an important part in the flow and success, once we arrived here. The cadre and mobilization support staff have been a pleasure to deal with, and they display a level of care for our Soldiers that is unmatched at any mobilization site.”

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