A Soldier with the 345th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion gives a “thumbs up” gesture to cameras broadcasting a virtual send-off ceremony at the National Guard armory in Ada, Oklahoma, April 1, 2021. The Soldiers are being mobilized to Fort Bliss, Texas in order to provide COVID mitigation support to units deploying overseas. | Oklahoma National Guard photo by Leanna Maschino
More than 60 Oklahoma Army National Guard Soldiers said farewell to their families in a virtual send-off ceremony at the National Guard armory in Ada, Oklahoma on April 1.
The Soldiers are assigned to the 345th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 90th Troop Command, and are leaving for a yearlong mobilization to Fort Bliss, Texas to provide COVID-19 mitigation support for Army units deploying to and returning from overseas.
Lt. Col. Darrin Fox, of Moore, Oklahoma, is serving as the Battalion’s commander for this mission and said his unit will be supporting Soldiers who have tested positive for COVID.
“This mission deals with Soldiers mobilizing and demobilizing at Fort Bliss,” Fox said. “Compared to a combat mission – we are still performing our duties when it comes to logistics.”
Fox said the Oklahoma Citizen-Soldiers will form the headquarters of a battalion that will be made up of transportation, logistical and medical personnel from the National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve. The combined National Guard/Reserve unit will mitigate the spread of COVID by caring for and providing logistical support to units and individual Soldiers who test positive for COVID.
Having received their mobilization orders about 90 days prior to departing for Fort Bliss, making this the unit’s third short-notice mobilization. The first was in 2003 when the unit was deployed to Kuwait and again in 2007 when the unit was deployed to Iraq.
Due to the ongoing COVID pandemic, the unit chose to hold a virtual ceremony that was broadcast live via the Oklahoma National Guard’s Facebook page. Following the ceremony, Soldiers were able to provide short messages to their loved ones on the broadcast.
Col. Lars Ostervold, commander, 90th Troop Command, thanked family members who were watching on the Facebook live stream.
“Thank you to the families that support our service members and what they do,” Ostervold said, directly addressing the camera. “Thank you for allowing them to serve and giving them the opportunity to serve our country and thank you for your continued support.”