Volume 31 - No. 6
Photos and story by Sgt. 1st Class Robert Stephenson, NJDMAVA/PA
Imagine being alerted and told you were deploying to Europe. Not bad, you say. But then imagine being told it would be for more than18 months, that you would be working with a large number of Soldiers from different units whom you’ve never met, that you would be cross-training as Military Police (MP) and that you would be utilizing these brand new skills in a country where you did not speak the language.
That’s exactly what happened to
the 248 members of the 50th Brigade,
New Jersey Army National Guard as
they deployed to Germany and Italy to
perform their newly acquired force protection
“Going through a mobilization process for the first time is always a new thing,” says newly-promoted Maj. Robert Hughes, company commander of Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 112th Field Artillery. “Transitioning to a new branch, a new job was something else. It took a little getting acclimated to, but the Army asked us to do a job, and we’re here to do it.”
The Soldiers, who deployed under
the flag of the 3rd Battalion, 112th
Field Artillery, were comprised of members
of Alpha and Charlie companies,
as well as volunteers from the 1st
Battalion, 114th Infantry; 2nd Battalion,
113th Infantry; 2nd Battalion, 102nd
“The majority are Artillerymen, with a mix of
Cavalry, Tankers and Infantrymen, who were all
trained and awarded the 31B MOS at Ft. Leonard
Wood prior to the overseas deployment,” notes Command
While performing in a brand new MOS has its challenges, the Soldiers on this deployment had their own unique situation, according to Spc. Brad Farmer, of Charlie Troop, 5-117th Cavalry, who was stationed with the 3-112th at Camp Darby, Italy.
“At first it was pretty rough - the language barrier was one of the key factors in getting around,” noted Farmer.
The Pennsville, N.J. native added that the transition went well after the first thirty days as the unit learned the language and had additional training.
Spc. Robert Francis of Charlie Company, 3-112th, stationed in Vicenza, Italy, noted that while school training was one thing, the real world offered the chance to gain important knowledge about the job. “I’ve learned a lot since I’ve been here, a lot of hands-on training, working the road,” commented Francis. “We learned a lot at Fort Leonard Wood, but we learned a lot more here, actually doing the job. The training was good, but it was a real kick in the butt when we came over here and had to do everything without the classroom setting.” Francis, a Union, New Jersey native who was recently promoted to specialist, particularly enjoyed working the school zones with the military dependent school children.
In addition to performing their MP mission, many of these NJ Guard Soldiers have had an opportunity to fulfill their Basic Non-Commissioned Officer Course (BNCOC) requirement and two Soldiers even earned the Air Assault badge at the base in Grafenwoehr, Germany, according to Slowinski. “All told, the overall feeling was that these Soldiers are making the best of the year-long deployment.” Given all they have been through, their performance has been extraordinary, according to Maj. Bryant Albert, Alpha Company commander.
“What we’ve accomplished to date
has been all about you guys,” Albert
noted during his recent promotion ceremony.
These “good” Soldiers will remain on duty in Europe for the next three months before returning home in the spring.
© 2006 - NJ Department of Military and Veterans Affairs