Soldiers to take part in sendoff ceremony in Boston
Dozens of local soldiers from a 300-member National Guard unit based in Brockton will take part in a sendoff ceremony in Boston on Sunday before leaving for Afghanistan.
The ceremony, for more than 400 soldiers in three units heading to Afghanistan and Iraq, is planned for 10 a.m. at the TD Garden in Boston.
Gov. Deval Patrick is expected to be among more than 4,000 people expected to attend the ceremony for the soldiers and their families. The ceremony is open to the public.
“This is the largest combined ceremony that we have had in the last two years,” Maj. James Sahady of the National Guard said in an e-mail to The Enterprise on Tuesday.
Among the soldiers will be members of the 1st Battalion, 101st Field Artillery Regiment of the Army National Guard, headquartered in Brockton, and with offices in Quincy, Fall River and Danvers. The unit is making final preparations for a one-year deployment to Afghanistan early next year.
Members of the unit will be responsible for supporting and mentoring the Afghan police and army with operations, training and policy development as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, according to the Massachusetts National Guard.
Founded in 1636, the 1st Battalion, 101st Field Artillery Regiment based in Brockton is the oldest field artillery battalion in the United States, officials said.
More than 100 area soldiers will deploy to Afghanistan or Iraq.
Local communities with the highest number of soldiers deploying to the war zones include Brockton, with 16 soldiers; Plymouth, 12; Stoughton, 8; Middleboro, 5; Rockland, 5; and Taunton, 5.
Soldiers from two other National Guard units also will take part in the sendoff ceremony on Sunday.
One of them, the Regional Corps Assistance Group, will deploy to Afghanistan to help train the Afghan police and army. And the 164th Transportation Battalion is heading to Iraq to provide heavy equipment transport capabilities for staging and sustainment operations to support Operation Iraqi Freedom, according to the Massachusetts National Guard.
After Sunday’s ceremony, the soldiers will train at various military bases across America for one month before deploying overseas, Sahady said.
President Barack Obama said he would be sending an additional 30,000 American forces into Afghanistan in a graduated deployment over the next year, on top of the 71,000 already there. Obama has announced he would start troop withdrawals by summer 2011.
Enterprise writer Maria Papadopoulos can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.