Brigade prepares for departure to Afghanistan

By Corene Brisendine

At 10 a.m. Monday, the 1st Sustainment Brigade “cased the colors” in preparation for the brigade’s upcoming deployment to Afghanistan. Casing is a ceremony where the brigade rolls up its flag for transit to a new location.

More than 300 brigade troops will be leaving, among them Spec. Timothy Gardner, who will leave his wife and three children behind. While Gardner stood at attention on the field Monday, his eight-week old son, Emmett, sat on his mother’s lap not comprehending his father would be leaving him, his brother, sister and mom behind. His wife, Lindsay, said this is Timothy’s third deployment with the brigade.

Lindsay said the two older children have handled their father deployments rather well, and she is glad the Department of Defense cut deployment times down to 9 months.

“It’s better than 15 (months, the previous length),” she said. “I think it will go by faster.”

While Gardner is deployed, Lindsay said her husband will miss all the children’s birthdays, their anniversary, Christmas, and even Thanksgiving. But, she added, they always have one big party when he returns to celebrate all those things. In the meantime, the family uses Skype, an internet-based video conference program, so Gardner can see them while he is in Afghanistan.

“(The kids] really enjoy seeing him on the computer,” Lindsay said.

Even though Gardner is the official soldier in the family, Lindsey has no less strength. She is sad to see her husband leave, but adds she knew what was expected when her husband joined the military.

“We knew this was coming,” Lindsay said.

The brigade is scheduled to leave during September, with the Headquarters Company and the Special Troops Battalion leaving together. Major Gerald Duenas, executive officer for the brigade, said while this is his fourth deployment, it is the first with this brigade and the first to Afghanistan.

In Afghanistan, the brigade will be in charge of moving, supplying and equipping tens of thousands of soldiers under the command of three regional commands.

Duenas told those attending Monday’s casing ceremony that this is a first for him in terms of the scale and scope of his responsibilities. In prior deployments, he said, he was in charge of training Afghani troops and was also a transportation officer. He said from a command point of view, it is like moving from a micro-scale to a macro-scale.

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