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Taking flight - Guardian Eagles leave for Middle East

Feb 17, 2011

By Russell Sellers, Army Flier Staff

FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- The last two groups of Soldiers of the 1-58th Airfield Operations Battalion set out for their deployment to the Middle East recently.

On Feb. 9, the remaining members of the 1-58th's Advance Team departed Cairns Army Airfield while the nearly 60 remaining Soldiers, including Lt. Col. Glenn Moore, battalion commander, followed on Feb. 11.

Moore said everyone in the unit was well-trained and ready to get the job done.

"This is why we've been paid every cent of every dollar as Soldiers," he said. "Today is bittersweet. While it's tough for all of us to leave behind our loved ones, it's a relief to finally get this deployment started."

The deploying groups of the 1-58th underwent six months of specialized training for their mission in the Middle East, Moore said. Once on the ground, he said the unit is more than capable of handling the tasks expected of it.

"We're definitely ready to go," he said. "The past six months of training has been tough, but the past six weeks of movement of troops and equipment has been even tougher due to the numerous mission changes and ever fluid mission in (the Middle East). However, every one of these Soldiers knows their job and is ready to get to work."

Sgt. 1st Class Jemar Ford, 1-58th AOB Air Traffic Control platoon sergeant, said it would be tough to be away from his Family for the 12-month deployment, but he echoed Moore in saying the unit is well-trained and ready for the mission.

"(My Family) and I spent as much time together as possible to get ready for this," he said. "This makes three deployments for me to the Middle East. As a unit, we're definitely ready to go."

After a short ceremony, the members of the unit boarded buses as their Families, friends and fellow Soldiers waved goodbye.

The 1-58th AOB was created to fill a gap in air traffic services, said Maj. Sherrie Sharpe, 1-58th AOB executive officer. It works with other entities and contract agencies in theater to provide more ATC support.

Sharpe was also among those who deployed in the two remaining groups.

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