PRESTONSBURG - The Floyd County Kentucky National Guard Combat/Engineers Division began gearing up over the weekend for A yearlong tour in the Middle East.
“It's a great opportunity,” said Capt. John Barger, of Lawrenceburg. “We're an engineer unit, and this is an engineer mission.”
Captain Barger noted that this will be the unit's first mission to the Middle East. Their last mission was during 2004 and 2005 in Kosovo, a province of Serbia.
“We want our opportunity to represent our community,” said Barger.
As well as their tour in Kosovo, the unit also spent several months in Monroe, La., after Hurricane Katrina, providing security at homeless shelters, and work in the southwest doing border work, fence and road construction.
The unit spent Saturday doing gear and equipment checks as well as training with the .50 caliber machine gun and the Squad Automatic Weapon (SAW). Communication training was planned for Sunday.
The unit had also received a full compliment of M4 rifles. The M4 is the military replacement for the antiquated M16.
“Kentucky National Guard is a top notch organization,” said Barger.
As well as training, the soldiers at the Armory were treated to a first class home-cooked meal prepared by employees from the Riverview Medical Center.
Lana Calhoun, human resource director at Riverview, said, “We wanted to show our appreciation to them, for their willingness to put their lives on the line for us, so that we can feel safe at home.”
Calhoun's nephew, Sgt. Drew Petry, will be shipping out with the unit. “We will miss him while he is gone, and we will be praying for him.”
Barger said he expects the unit will be deployed to Afghanistan, but things change a lot once they get to the Middle East.
The unit will be leaving Floyd County in February for their annual training at Fort Knox and the Wendell Ford Training Center. The unit expects to return for a short span before leaving again to go to Wisconsin Mobilization Center.
From there, the unit will depart for the Middle East for their year rotation.