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South Carolina National Guard gears up for deployment

By Sgt. 1st Class Joe Cashion January 13, 2017

EASTOVER, S.C. -- Under the sunny skies of a cool January mid-afternoon, Soldiers of the South Carolina National Guard, 742nd Support Maintenance Company (SMC) continued preparations for their upcoming deployment.

"The chow truck is here," said U.S. Army 2nd Lt. Alex Schmidt, 3rd platoon leader of the electronics section, as a number of troops then took a much deserved break to get a hot meal.

On this day, the unit of approximately 140 Soldiers was nearing completion of a week-long field training event at McEntire Joint National Guard Base (JNGB) in Eastover, South Carolina, Jan. 9-13, 2017. They were putting the finishing touches on getting ready for a nine-month deployment to Eastern Europe beginning at the end of February to support Operation Atlantic Resolve.

"What I am most looking forward to on this deployment is really getting to know the troops since we only have a limited number of days with them during a typical year," said Schmidt. "We have a lot of great Soldiers in this unit who have worked hard to get ready for this mission."

The 742nd SMC consists of Soldiers who are experts in radio electronic technology, vehicle recovery operations and vehicle maintenance, as well as maintenance of small arms weapons. For a large portion of the unit, it will be their first deployment, to include U.S. Army Spc. Duran Jones, a radio repair specialist.

"I am looking forward getting good training while on this mission and getting more hands-on time with the equipment so I can improve my skills," Jones said. "Without communications, nothing can work effectively."

The 742nd SMC will primarily operate from two countries while deployed and will be in support of the active component's 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, based at Fort Carson, Colorado. For the Soldiers of the 742nd, the training event at McEntire JNGB was extremely beneficial, explained U.S. Army Capt. Taurus Gardin, company commander.

"Our Soldiers have gotten on-the-job training which will help them greatly when we get downrange," Gardin said. "During this exercise, we have also been able to work with the Combined Support Maintenance Shop (CSMS) here at McEntire and their help to get our Soldiers prepared has been outstanding."

Another benefit of the exercise was from a familiarization standpoint. For this deployment, Soldiers from other units have been incorporated into the 742nd and spending the week together with new counterparts is an advantage.

"The new Soldiers have been able to come here and integrate," said Gardin. "It helps for Soldiers to be able to get to know each other, working side-by-side, eating chow together and training together before we leave. That way everyone will know what to expect when we get to Europe and it becomes real."

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