Send-off ceremony held for deploying GUANG members
By Senior Airman Audreya J.P. Taitano
Guam National Guard Public Affairs Office
JOINT READINESS CENTER, Guam – Over 100 Guam Air National Guard members preparing to deploy were surrounded by loved ones during an official send-off ceremony Feb. 14 at the University of Guam Fieldhouse.
“Duty, honor and sacrifice,” said The Adjutant General MAJ GEN Benny Paulino of the Guam National Guard. “We recognize these fine Airmen today because they live these three simple words that have a tremendous impact on our lives as we know it.”
The 254th Red Horse Squadron is deploying the majority of GUANG personnel and will participate in an Overseas Contingency Operation as part of a Total Force personnel footprint to support the Central Command Air Force Red Horse Requirements.
“I’m excited,” said 254th RHS Heavy Equipment Operator Airman 1st Class Jesse San Nicolas. “This is my first deployment, and it’s great to be able to experience it with a team of guys that you’re willing to go out on a limb for.”
The months of preparation have been demanding as the Airmen sharpen their skills for operation in the battlefield.
“The physical training aspect has probably been the most important,” according to San Nicolas. “Our fitness has been key in making sure we’re able to carry the extra gear while in the zone.”
From the home front, family and friends are preparing in a different way.
“The thought of the deployment has been very sad,” said Lenisha Villanueva, girlfriend of five years to 254th RHS Heavy Equipment Operator Jamie Torres. “But the reality of it really hit me during today’s ceremony.”
Like many others, Villanueva and Torres plan to bridge the distance and time through letters, phone calls and video chat.
While the families prepare for the long months apart, Paulino praised the Guam Air Guard’s long record of mission success and their proven readiness.
“Our engineers have been consistently tasked by the Pacific Air Force Command with a variety of missions in and around the region,” said Paulino. “Over the last two years, the 254th Red Horse Squadron and the rest of the Guam Air Guard have excelled in two major Air Force inspections truly showing their high standards.”
The 254th RHS will be augmented by members of the 254th Comptroller Flight who will provide finance support, while an additional 22 members from the 254th Force Support Squadron will be assigned to various locations throughout the region to provide support in the areas of personnel and services.