Small team of St. Augustine aviators deploys in support of Operation Enduring Freedom
ST. AUGUSTINE, Fla. (Aug. 12, 2011) – Florida National Guard commanders, family members and friends bid farewell to eight Soldiers during a deployment ceremony at the St. Augustine Airport, Aug. 12, for Detachment 8, Operational Support Airlift Agency.
Although the primary mission of the unit is to provide C-12 airlift support in the United States and Central America while supporting homeland defense and humanitarian missions, the unit will be conducting surveillance operations in Afghanistan for approximately one year as part of a task force comprised of units from five other states.
“For fixed-wing aviators, this is the mission you really want to do when you’re in combat because this is the combat multiplier,” said Chief Warrant Officer Jay Burke, the unit’s commander. The mission of Detachment 8 will involve sending real-time information to Soldiers on the ground and to information centers in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
“We don’t get this opportunity very often, so we’re extremely excited about the opportunity to go out there and make a difference,” he said.
As part of a time-honored tradition, the ceremony wasn’t complete without a presentation of the Florida State flag to Burke and his Soldiers.
“Each unit that goes forward is given the state flag,” Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Hosford, State Command Sergeant Major, said during the ceremony. “They take their state flag with them in their hearts and in their hands to remind them that they are the Florida National Guard.”
This ceremony marked the 81st departure ceremony for the Florida National Guard in the past 10 years.
“They are a very proud and humble group of Soldiers,” said Maj. Gen. Don Tyre, Assistant Adjutant General for the Florida Army National Guard, who hosted the ceremony. “As you go do the great things that you are so well prepared to do, remember to take care of yourself, take care of each other and never forget that you are the best that this state and nation has to offer.”
Currently, the Florida National Guard has more than 600 Soldiers and Airmen mobilized for federal active duty with more than 400 of them deployed around the world in support of our nation’s missions.