Fort Polk says farewell to deploying 'Patriot Brigade' - KPLC 7 News, Lake Charles, Louisiana

Fort Polk says farewell to deploying 'Patriot Brigade'

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A soldier embraces a loved one at Friday's ceremony. (Elona Weston/KPLC) A soldier embraces a loved one at Friday's ceremony. (Elona Weston/KPLC)
Sgt. Joshua Childs holds his young daughter at Friday's event. (Elona Weston/KPLC) Sgt. Joshua Childs holds his young daughter at Friday's event. (Elona Weston/KPLC)
Soldiers stand in formation at Friday's ceremony. (Elona Weston/KPLC) Soldiers stand in formation at Friday's ceremony. (Elona Weston/KPLC)
A scene from Friday's ceremony at Fort Polk. (Elona Weston/KPLC) A scene from Friday's ceremony at Fort Polk. (Elona Weston/KPLC)
KPLC's Gerron Jordan takes a photo of the Childs family on Friday. (Elona Weston/KPLC) KPLC's Gerron Jordan takes a photo of the Childs family on Friday. (Elona Weston/KPLC)
FORT POLK, LA (KPLC) -

"Forged for war."

That's the motto of Fort Polk's 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division.

Those were also the words used Friday by Maj. Gen. Stephen Townsend, the commander of the 10th Mountain Division, to describe the soldiers who are heading for 10 months of combat in Afghanistan.

A deployment ceremony, held Friday at the installation's Honor Field, served as the soldiers' official farewell.

Townsend said no doubt, their mission will be complex.

The 1,230 soldiers will deploy as a Security Force Assistance Brigade whose mission will be to advise, and when necessary, assist their Afghan counterparts to further establish a secure Afghanistan.

Townsend said the group will be among the last American military units in Afghanistan as U.S. operations wind down there.

"To the mountaineers in formation, I am not going to sugarcoat this. The mission you have is extremely challenging. In fact, arguably, it will be the most challenging and demanding mission you've undertaken in this war to date. But you've trained for this mission for a long time. You've built experience in your previous deployments from your classroom training, your field exercises and doing your advisor training. This task will require you to draw on all of your skills and talents. But I see big, broad shoulders out there and determined looks in your eyes. I know you are more than up to this challenge," Townsend said.

Family and friends traveled from all over the country for the ceremony.

Many soldiers in the unit, also known as the "Patriot Brigade," have seen combat before.

The unit has deployed four times in recent years, and this is the group's third deployment to Afghanistan.

Taylor Childs, wife of Sgt. Joshua Childs, has seen her husband deploy several times.

She said in recent weeks, she and Joshua have been preparing their children, Makynlee, Mylee and Maverick , for their father's deployment.

"With this deployment, we this time, got the dolls with the pictures that the kids could have. We have two older ones that are little more aware of the situation," Taylor said.

First Lt. David Hester, and his wife, Jenifer, have a 3-month-old daughter, Ellie Grace.

The couple's family drove in from Mississippi to attend the ceremony.

"This is a good sendoff, a good experience especially with our family here," Hester said.

Col. Mario A. Diaz, who commands the 4th Brigade Combat team, said, in total, there are 3,449 in the Patriot Brigade. He urged the soldiers who are not deploying with the group to "stay ready."

Diaz also thanked the community for their support of the soldiers and their families. He said families back home will be cared for.

"We'll look forward to returning here to Honor Field or maybe even marching down the streets of Leesville," he said.

The 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, activated on Fort Polk in 2005.

You can view a slideshow of Friday's ceremony HERE.

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