GLASGOW, Ky. - Nearly 200 Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 623rd Field Artillery were honored Sunday during a departure ceremony in Glasgow, Ky.
Hundreds of supporters attended the event at Barren County High School to send off their loved ones. The unit is scheduled to deploy to Jordan and Africa in January.
Known as "Morgan's Men" due to their military lineage to Gen. John Hunt Morgan from the Civil War, the 1/623rd will be the first Kentucky Guard unit to add the country of Jordan to its deployment history.
Brig Gen. Mike Richie, deputy commander for Kentucky, was on hand to speak to the Soldiers and their families and friends. Richie applauded the unit for "exceeding the standard" in training for this deployment.
He also reminded them of their past and current achievements of representing Kentucky overseas, regardless of their mission, "reflecting what American Soldiers should look like and act like."
"This deployment will send you to three different countries with a variety of missions, and those aren't artillery missions," said Richie. "To me, that is an outstanding indicator of what kind of Soldiers you are, the capability you have and the way you go about conducting business."
According to Soldiers and citizens alike, the 1/623rd is a proud example in Kentucky of a Guard unit conducting itself as a family, both internally as well as in its community.
Battalion commander Lt. Col. Timothy Fanter has always recognized this, insisting that the Soldiers sit with their families during the ceremony. He described it as "the way we conduct business around here – family is first."
For Spc. David Collins, the intimate atmosphere was appropriate as numerous members of his "large" family were on hand. He said it was a great feeling to be able to be among his family at a time like this. He praised the unit's leadership for "their understanding" in the importance of family within the 1/623rd.
Collins’ oldest brother Stephen said their family has carried on a military tradition for several generations. He said the Collinses proudly continue it today, not only with David, but with another brother, Daniel, who deployed earlier this year to the Horn of Africa with Kentucky's Task Force Longrifles.
"I know this is something both boys have always wanted to do, so we are behind them 100 percent," Stephen said. "Just like every other family member, we worry while they're gone, but glad they're doing something they both enjoy and that has a lot of meaning behind it."
While Pfc. Collins won't be home for the holidays, David, Stephen and many other family members plan to gather for a Skype call with him around Christmas. David said it's important to make the most of time at home before the unit departs for Fort Hood, Texas, then on to Jordan.
"I am going to spend this time with my family, as close as I can and make many good memories, and keep a positive attitude before these two weeks come to an end," said David.
Soldiers of the 1/623rd will assume an advise-and-assist role in the training of Jordanian troops as part of a partner nation alliance in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The unit is scheduled to return home in the fall of 2013.