CAMP SMITH TRAINING SITE, N.Y. – Two hundred and fifty New York Army National Guard Soldiers assigned to New York City’s 369th Sustainment Brigade said goodbye to family members Sept. 18 as they left for a 10-month deployment to Kuwait to provide logistical support to Army forces in the Middle East.
Known as the Harlem Hellfighters because of the unit’s heroic service during World War I in France, the brigade is based at the historic Harlem Armory in Manhattan.
The 369th Infantry Regiment, an all-Black New York National Guard unit in a segregated Army, earned the nickname from the German units they fought against in 1918.
Family members turned out for a deployment ceremony at the New York National Guard’s Camp Smith Training Site near Peekskill. During the ceremony, the brigade’s colors were cased and the Soldiers boarded buses for nearby Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh.
They flew to Fort Hood, Texas, and will train there for 30 to 45 days before departing for Kuwait.
The brigade headquarters can provide mission command for supply, transportation and maintenance units that support Army brigade combat teams and will be responsible for 2,500 personnel in Kuwait.
Maj. Gen. Ray Shields, the adjutant general of New York, thanked family members for supporting the Soldiers.
“Without your support, we would not have a National Guard,” Shields said.
“We know that today is a difficult day for many as it represents the start of a lengthy absence of your loved one,” Shields said. “But it is also a day of immense pride and love of our state and nation as these Citizen-Soldiers deploy to protect our freedoms.”
For the past few years, the Soldiers of the 369th have been busy at home helping New York cope with the COVID-19 pandemic, Shields said. Now they will serve their country overseas.
He told the Soldiers to have confidence in their leaders and look out for each other.
“Dangers exist in the Middle East. There are people who hate what we stand for,” he said. “Therefore, every Soldier must always be mindful of their surroundings and prepared to act when necessary.”
Col. Seth Morgulas, the 369th Sustainment Brigade commander, told the families the Soldiers are ready.
“I have the utmost confidence in every one of them,” he said. “They are all professionals and dedicated Soldiers. Their hard work and dedication have made our pre-deployment training, administrative tasks and logistics tasks remarkably smooth.”
The brigade includes some Soldiers on their third or forth deployment, Morgulas said. Some returned from a 2020-21 deployment with the 42nd Infantry Division and volunteered to go again.
The 369th deployed to Kuwait in 2016 to support Operation Spartan Shield.
The current deployment will be similar to that one, Morgulas said.
During that 2016 deployment, the 369th commanded four logistics battalions — over 2,700 Soldiers — and conducted sustainment operations at 27 sites from Afghanistan to Jordan, Syria and Iraq.