The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA


August 28, 2012

60 Guard members heading to Kuwait

MAUSDALE — More than 60 members of the Pennsylvania National Guard stationed at the Danville Armed Forces Center are expected to be deployed to the Middle East in September.

The majority of the military personnel are from the 3rd Battalion of the 103rd Armor National Guard, according to Maj. Keith Hickox, public affairs officer of the 55th Brigade, which is part of the 103rd. He is stationed in Scranton.

Slightly more than 50 members of the battalion will be deployed.

More than 10 members of 1 Alpha Co. of the 55th Brigade Special Troops Battalion also will be deployed. That company had been in Berwick before moving to the Danville area center.

Members of A Company of the 103rd Armor Battalion, formerly of Sunbury and now based at the Lewisburg Armory, also will deploy.

All told, approximately 1,500 Pennsylvania soldiers will deploy as part of the 55th, said Staff Sgt. Matt Jones, a public affairs specialist with the Pennsylvania National Guard.

The military personnel will undergo training for two months and are expected to serve in Kuwait for nine to 10 months, he said.

The members live within an hour’s drive of Danville, with the majority of them being from the local area, Hickox said.

Military officials aren’t giving the date for their departure, but said deployment will start in mid-September. “They will be mobilized by the end of the year,” Hickox said.

While in the Middle East, they are expected to be joined by other National Guard units.

They will become involved in a wide variety of missions, including providing U.S. camp security and working and training with international military, he said.

“Our mission there isn’t the kind that books are written about or movies made about, but is every bit as essential to our country’s strategic goals throughout the Middle East,” he said.

He said more than half of those being deployed have served in Afghanistan or Iraq. “Many are combat veterans already,” he said.

Those being deployed include men and women.

Maj. Clyde Brown, of the Danville Armed Forces Center, said the 55th Brigade has been preparing for deployment because of changing operations overseas. He said the brigade includes units from north central, southeast and south central Pennsylvania.

The Danville center, dedicated this spring, allows soldiers to conduct drills on weekends. Soldiers include 227 National Guard members and 130 Army Reservists. About 18 people work at the center.

The $19 million, 80,000-square-foot center replaced armories in Lewisburg and Berwick. The center is about twice the size of the former armories combined.

The Lewisburg Armory, built in 1938, covered 34,000 square feet, and the Berwick Armory, which opened in 1922, contained 12,000 square feet.


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