Sarasota unit departs for year-long Air Defense mission

Written by  //  July 15, 2012  //  Feature Stories

Soldiers from the Florida Army National Guard's 3rd Battalion, 265th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, bow their heads during a benediction at the unit's deployment ceremony in Sarasota, Fla., July 14, 2012. More than 200 Soldiers from the unit were deploying for a year to provide air defense support in the National Capital Region. Photo by Master Sgt. Thomas Kielbasa

SARASOTA, Fla. (July 15, 2012) — Nearly 130 members of the Florida Army National Guard’s 3rd Battalion, 265th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, were honored yesterday during a military ceremony prior to a year-long deployment.

The unit – based in Sarasota – will be deployed for the third time since 2001 to provide air defense in the National Capital Region. More than 200 Soldiers from the battalion will be taking part in the mission in support of “Operation Noble Eagle.”

Unit Commander Lt. Col. Michael Forson said he is feeling confident that his Soldiers are ready for the important mission.

“Our Soldiers have trained very hard over the past year for this mission,” Forson said. “I know we have the right Soldiers and the right leaders in the right places to ensure our success.”

Forson noted that approximately half of his force has already participated in similar Noble Eagle missions.

 “This mission is vital to the security of our nation and we are proud to be a part of it,” he said.

This deployment ceremony was the 90th major federal deployment ceremony for the Florida National Guard since 2001. Since Sept. 11, 2001, more than 15,000 citizen-Soldiers and citizen-Airmen from the Florida National Guard have operationally deployed for federal service.

The unit is currently at Ft. Bliss, Texas, for additional training before traveling to the National Capital Region.