By Steve Larson
Public Affairs Office
The high school gymnasium in Holton, Kansas, was packed the morning of April 14 as the community came together to bid farewell to Soldiers of Battery A, 2nd Battalion, 130th Field Artillery as they prepared to deploy for a year-long mission to Kuwait.“Your presence here today makes a very special occasion even more special,” said Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli, the adjutant general. “What’s amazing to me is, as we look at the families, the friends and our community, that community is the special bond that the National Guard has.”
The battery will deploy to their mobilization station at Fort Bliss, Texas, for additional training before moving on to Kuwait in support of Operation Spartan Shield.
“I have every confidence that these Soldiers are… ready to perform the mission they’ve been asked to carry out in support of the defense of our great nation,” said Tafanelli. “They have taken all of their equipment and added sections from maintenance, logistics, communications, intel, as well as additional operational personnel, and have made one cohesive unit in nine months. They have done all of this while completing all the required mobilization and theater-specific training, continuing their field artillery core competencies and achieving section certification for 12 High-Mobility Artillery Rocket System crews, seven ammunition sections and five fire direction sections.”
Tafanelli thanked the Soldiers for their unyielding commitment to the state and nation.
“Your dedication and selfless service is the foundation of what makes our military the greatest military on the planet,” he said. “Thank you for your willingness to serve and your desire to make a difference. You represent the best of what our state and nation has to offer and each one of you is exceptional.”
Tafanelli also thanked the families and friends who came to honor their Soldiers.
“The Kansas National Guard stands with you and is deeply invested in supporting you as you support your loved ones over this deployment,” said Tafanelli. “The strength of our military has been and will always be our people.”
In his remarks, Capt. Michael Sprigg, the battery commander, thanked the leadership of the Kansas National Guard for their confidence in him and the unit.
“Thank you for believing in us and our ability to accomplish the mission you have selected us for,” said Sprigg. “We appreciate the continued support we get from the battalion, brigade and the state. Without it, we would not have been as successful so far or had the smooth premobilization training we did.”
Sprigg said he was surprised by the community’s overwhelming turnout.
“Next time, we’re going to have to get a bigger gym, I think.”
Sprigg said that the unit’s mission is somewhat different than many of the Kansas Guard’s recent deployments.
“We’re sending field artillery soldiers downrange to do a field artillery mission,” Sprigg explained. “It’s a pretty big deal. It hasn’t happened in a very long time.”
“We’re pretty excited about this,” said Spc. Matthew Pyles. “We’re actually going over to do our job. We can’t wait. It is going to be a good deployment. We’re all pretty tight, we have a good group with us. We’ve got good leadership. We’re ready.”
Pyles said the mutual support the Soldiers give to each other will be key to their mission’s success.
“We’re responsible for each other. We watch each other’s back,” said Pyles. “That’s how we’re going to survive.”
Although Pyles has deployed before, he admitted it would be hard to leave his family for a year.
“But it’s something that we have to do. It’s our job,” he said, but added that serving in the military was something he had always wanted to do. “I’ve wanted to be in the military ever since I was young. My dad’s former military; so’s my step-father. I’ve got a lot of uncles that are former military, too. It’s a family tradition.
“I wouldn’t trade this for anything.”