1,600 soldiers from TF-34 deploy - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

1,600 soldiers from TF-34 deploy

Fort Sill_1,600 soldiers were honored during Monday's deployment ceremony at Fort Sill as they said goodbye on Monday as they prepared to head to the Middle East.  Since June 1, Combat Aviation Unit "Task Force 34" has been training at Fort Sill on Blackhawk, Chinook, and Apache helicopters that have been flying in the Texoma sky.  Now that they have finished their training, they are heading off to war.  The large number of soldiers are all from National Guard units, and there was an immense showing from all parts of the United States as the soldiers said farewell. 

Tim Bousky traveled from Singapore and braved the triple digit heat for only one reason - his sister.  "Joanne, it's as simple as that," he said.  "This is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see her go, and I wanted to come here for that."  His sister is the battalion commander of the General Support Aviation Battallion out of Grand Prairie, Texas, and she - along with the other soldiers being deployed - are part of a brand new U.S. Army Aviation Unit - Task Force 34.

The unit has been training in the Fort Sill skies both day and night for the past two months.  Lieutenant Colonol Joanne MacGregor says that being a part of a National Guard troop is exciting because of the variety of the soldiers' backgrounds.  "I had 575 soldiers coming in from five different states, and how quickly we come together as a team is pretty incredible," she said.  "We are fired up!  We're excited about going out there, and getting the mission done, and getting home back to our families."

TF-34 soldiers are from 11 different sates, and close to half of them are from Minnesota, which is why their governor Tim Pawlenty came to Lawton to say goodbye.  "These men and women give us their all and we need to give them our all back," he said.  Bousky says it's why he travelled all the way to Lawton to see his little sister.  "For this kind of dedication, to the county and to her team, the battalion - it's quite significant, so I'm proud to be part of it," he said. 

The task force is not only made up of soldiers from many different states, it also has an Active Duty Attack Element in Illesheim, Germany.  They plan to be in Iraq until June, 2009.  When the soldiers land in Iraq, they will be met by the rest of their team, at which point there will be a total of more than 2,700 in the task force.

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