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NEWS | Dec. 18, 2023

Pennsylvania National Guard Soldiers Bound for Africa Mission

By Maj. Travis Mueller, Joint Force Headquarters - Pennsylvania National Guard

HARRISBURG, Pa. – More than 300 Soldiers with the Pennsylvania National Guard’s 2nd Battalion, 112th Infantry Regiment, were honored during a deployment ceremony Dec. 17 at Zembo Shrine Auditorium.

A battalion under the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, these Soldiers are leaving their homes and families for a nine-month deployment to the Horn of Africa. They will serve with Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa, supporting U.S. Africa Command and partner forces with security objectives in the region.

“This mission is important on multiple levels, all the way from strategic down through the tactical level,” said Lt. Col. Eric Ponzek, commander of the 2-112th Infantry Regiment. “Ultimately, we’re reinforcing the strategic importance of our presence in East Africa.”

The Soldiers and their families were praised for their dedication to duty and selfless service. Gov. Josh Shapiro shared remarks during the ceremony, as well as Maj. Gen. Mark Schindler, the adjutant general of Pennsylvania, Col. Chris Costello, commander of the 56th SBCT, and Ponzek.

Other Pennsylvania National Guard senior leaders attending included Brig. Gen. Laura McHugh, deputy adjutant general-Army, and Maj. Gen. Mark McCormack, the commanding general of the 28th Infantry Division, the 56th SBCT’s higher headquarters unit.

During the ceremony, the battalion’s colors, or a rallying flag, were cased and furled, formally signaling that the 2-112th Infantry Regiment is ready for its mission. The colors will be uncased when they take authority for the mission when they arrive in the Horn of Africa.

“What it boils down to is purpose,” Ponzek said. “Far too often these days it appears that everyone is kind of looking out for themselves. They’re worried about the individual. But the Soldiers of this formation, from the newest private to the sergeant major, we really stress service over self, and they live it, they embody it and every day I’m proud to be with them.”



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