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Reservists deploying to Japan for Enduring Freedom

by Wayne V. Hall

FORT BELVOIR, Va. (Army News Service, July 15, 2002) -- About 50 reservists from the Army's 9th Theater Support Command have been activated for deployment to Japan in support of the War on Terrorism.

The 9th TSC is a multi-component unit, said Col. Michael Means, deputy commander. He explained that the unit has an active-duty component of some 30 soldiers stationed at Camp Zama, Japan, and the bulk of its troops -- some 400 Army Reserve soldiers - are based at Fort Belvoir, Va.

Only a small part of the 9th TSC is deploying in support of Operation Enduring Freedom, Means said at a departure ceremony for the troops July 9. The deploying soldiers will be working with the 10th Area Support Group, headquartered in Okinawa, to support logistical operations in the Pacific region.

"It's important for them to know that we appreciate the sacrifices they are making, both personal and professional," Means said.

"Since the birth of this nation, the citizen-soldier has been a vital part of our nation," Means said, addressing the deploying soldiers, and the family and friends who came to see them off. "Your contribution to help keep America strong and free of terrorism is a very noble cause, so hold your heads up."

"Today we live in troubled times, as reflected by the events of Sept. 11," said Lt. Col. Donald Moore, who is the unit's senior officer for the deploying group. "The 9th TSC was called and it's time for use to step up to the plate. It's a proud day for all of us, and a great day to be a soldier."

Some of the soldiers said they were caught a little off guard by the deployment, but leaders said they did well in preparing to go.

"We've been preparing for about two months, and mentally for about six months," Moore said.

That preparation has been about more than just making sure the soldiers are ready to go; it included taking steps to prepare the families.

"It's important to let their families know that we're here to support them [while their soldiers are gone," Means continued. "It's more critical to support the families today than ever before."

The unit conducted a family day June 22 in which many Army agencies were brought in to tell families what they need to do to prepare themselves for the departure of their soldiers.

"The key is the family support group," Moore said. "That's the key that holds it all together."

While the Army will take care of the deployed soldiers, Moore's wife Michelle has taken charge of the unit's Family Readiness Group.

Her job will be, "the greatest chore of all" said Maj. Gen. Joe M. Ernst, assistant deputy commanding general (IMA) for Reserve Affairs with the U.S. Army Material Command, said during the ceremony

"We are here to assist the unit and their families in any way," Michelle Moore said. "We have established a Family Support room here [at the Reserve Center] so family members can come to the drill center and e-mail your loved ones."

Most of those deploying are leaving family behind.

"I'm not nervous yet, I still don't think it's real," said Spc. Latara Martin, a mother of two -- Donnesha Streeman, 5, and Darren Nomikos, 7 -- who has been a reservist for nearly two years. "My mother is taking care of my children while I'm gone.

"My daughter is sad because we've never been apart," said Martin, an administrative specialist. "My son's not really sure yet [how to feel] because I'm not gone yet. They understand that it's part of my job and they're proud of me."

Deploying soldiers are making use of family care plans to ensure those they leave behind are taken care of. Some soldiers, however, said they have encountered challenges.

"This is my first extended deployment and it will be one of the best tests of my family care plan," said Sgt. Alfred Sullivan who has been in the 9th TSC since joining the Army Reserve in 1998.

Sullivan is the geographic single-parent of three children, as his wife is an active-duty soldier stationed in Italy.

"My wife was shocked to learn of the deployment," said Sullivan, a logistics automated non-commissioned officer. "But I have a good family care plan -- they'll be staying with their grandmother in Mississippi."

It is never easy trying to explain a deployment to loved ones, especially those who are too young to really understand what it's all about, said Spc. James Heatherly. He has a 3-year-old daughter, Veronica.

Heatherly is an administrative specialist who has been with the 9th TSC for about a year after spending about 10 years on active duty. His first major deployment was with the 18th Personnel Group (Airborne) for operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm.

Mia Heatherly said she plans to keep in touch with her husband through phone calls and e-mail.

Heatherly and other 9th TSC soldiers are now at Fort Eustis, Va., where they will undergo mobilization activities for about eight to 10 days. From there they will head to Japan, officials said, to provide logistical command and control for the U.S. Army Pacific Command.

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