Longrifles home from the Horn of Africa!

2/138th Uncasing Ceremony

LOUISVILLE, Ky – Lt. Col. Rob Larkin and Command Sgt. Maj. Timothy Gividen uncase the 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery Colors on September 8, 2013, in Louisville, Ky.

Story by Sgt. Alexa Becerra

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — The 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery Task Force Longrifles uncased their colors at a ceremony on Sunday, September 8th, 2013 in Louisville, Ky. This uncasing signifies that the command is now operational at their new location; in this case in their home state of Kentucky after returning from a nine month deployment to the Horn of Africa.

The uncasing ceremony was the culmination of a two day Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program that provided Soldiers and their families with information on health care, education/training opportunities, financial, and legal benefits after the deployment.

“We knew that Task Force Longrifles was going to make all of us and the Africa-Command proud,” said Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, Adjutant General for the state of Kentucky and guest of honor at the ceremony.

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During their deployment, Task Force Longrifles provided security at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti.  This included protecting the entry points to the camp and the ammunition supply point, operating the emergency operation center, providing a 24/7 quick reaction force, guarding two airfields for manned and unmanned aircraft, and protecting U.S. ships docked at the Port of Djibouti.

In addition, they also provided a 24/7 security force to accompany personnel recovery forces operating in both East Africa and Southwest Asia.

2/138th Uncasing Ceremony

2/138th Task Force Longrifles Uncasing of the Colors Ceremony took place at the Galt House in Louisville on September 8th, 2013, in Louisville, Ky. (Photo by Sgt. Alexa Becerra)

The Soldiers of Task Force Longrifles were not only in Djibouti. In neighboring Ethiopia they provided force protection at Forward Operating Site Gilbert until its closure in April of 2013, and they also provided security at Camp Simba in Kenya.

“You conducted more than 30 military-to-military missions with forces from Djibouti, France, Comoros, Burundi, Japan, Uganda, Mauritius and Kenya,” said Tonini of the unit’s work with other countries also in the region.

He also reminded the Soldiers and families attending the ceremony of the incredible charitable work the Task Force accomplished in addition to their assigned tasks while deployed.

“You delivered more than 4,700 pounds of donations to charitable organizations across Djibouti and completed more than 11,000 hours of community service,” said Tonini. “You all were fantastic ambassadors to our global neighbors.”

Task Force Longrifles commander, Lt. Col. Rob Larkin, expressed his pride and gratitude for the hard work the Soldiers did during the deployment.

“The mission was a great success, and all the Soldiers that were a part of Task Force Longrifles performed in a superb fashion,” said Larkin. “We did more than anyone ever thought we could do, we were constantly asked to do more missions and we always stepped up to the plate.”

“We trained literally thousands of troops from our partner nations, and provided security for various bases and we were able to accomplish this because we have great troops and great leaders,” said Larkin.

2/138th Uncasing Ceremony

The uncasing ceremony was the culmination of a two day Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program that provided Soldiers and their families with information on health care, education/training opportunities, financial, and legal benefits after the deployment. (Photo by Sgt. Alexa Becerra)

The Soldiers and their families were very happy to be reunited after the long deployment, and the Soldiers expressed their pride from being part of such a complex and unique mission.

“We were on call 24/7and constantly stayed busy but were able to receive invaluable training and experience from Army Special Forces teams and Air Force Pararescue teams,” said Spc. Justin Yates, a member of the Site Security Team which provided security for personnel recovery forces.

So what is next for the Soldiers of Task Force Longrifles now that they are home?

“The National Guard is now going to be in a transition phase where we probably won’t be deploying as much,” said Larkin, “which means that we will get back to our artillery mission, learning to shoot artillery pieces again and providing accurate artillery fires.”

This mission, along with the many others the 2nd Battalion, 138th Field Artillery has been tasked with, will not be forgotten.

“What you all have done for our country and the Commonwealth of Kentucky has made and indelible mark on this planet,” said Tonini. “Your missions mattered, your dedication mattered, and your unit mattered.”

“You all are a part of history and a part of what we, as Citizen Soldiers and Airmen, do for Kentucky and our nation,” said Tonini.

Task Force Longrifles, out!

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