164th’s Task Force Knight reunites with family, new babies after year-long mobilization
By Capt. Theresa DiPinto
164th Air Defense Artillery Brigade
ORLANDO, Fla. (Aug. 11, 2011) — On Aug. 5, 31 Soldiers of the 164th Air Defense Artillery (ADA) Brigade returned to their families after 12 months in Washington D.C. in support of Operation Noble Eagle. Ecstatic spouses, cheering children, and two new babies welcomed the members of Task Force Knight back home following a year of challenges, adversity and growth.
At the Orlando Armory, home of the 164th ADA headquarters, end-of-mission awards were handed out and homemade refreshments were served following thanks and congratulations by Brig. Gen. Frank Laudano, Brigade commander, and Col. Matthew Hearon, Task Force Knight commander.
Children giggled full-belly laughs, spouses sported ear-to-ear smiles and the jovial spirit was palpable in the few minutes before the Soldiers walked in. “You faced four major challenges up there – which you corrected – and you united the different agencies and your team,” said Laudano during his opening remarks. He was also quick to point out the sacrifices made by the families as well. “It’s amazing how fast it goes by when they’re busy, but how long it takes when you’re here at home alone,” said Laudano.
Nothing could be further from the truth for Candice Richardson and Amber DeVall, who both welcomed babies while their husbands, Capt. Kyle Richardson and Capt. Trevor DeVall were knee deep in operations at the Joint Air Defense Operations Center (JADOC). While their husbands were off defending the National Capital Region from air attacks, they were tending to their little ones.
Candice welcomed baby Tanner six and half months before her husband’s return and already had her hands full with their 2 ½-year old daughter Kyra. Amber gave birth to baby Harper just seven weeks before her husband’s return. While both Soldiers did take advantage of the full ten days of paternity leave authorized, their spouses had to drive on without them the remainder of the time.
After the Task Force ceremony concluded, the Brigade recognized Sgt. Maj. Kimberley Overstreet, who had reached retirement while on mission. After serving 27 years in the military, she chose the NCR mission as her final effort before turning in her boots. They presented her a special saber from the Florida National Guard Sergeants Major Association to commemorate her significant contributions to the enlisted corps and the 164th ADA.
This is the fourth time the 164th has deployed to D.C. to serve as the command element in charge of the Army, Air, and civilian personnel serving in the JADOC. Two of their subordinate air defense battalions – 1-265th and 3-265th – rotate with the Ohio Army National Guard and South Carolina Army National Guard for responsibility as the battalion element. The mission to provide air defense over the National Capital Region began in 2003 in response to the attacks of September 11th and includes ground- and air-based deterrent and protection systems that operate 24/7.