Fort Lee troops deployed overseas
By Caitlin Davis, Senior Staff Writer
Apr 8, 2014, 14:49
CAITLIN DAVIS/HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT Loved ones embrace after a deployment ceremony held for 44 soldiers last week at Fort Lee.
FORT LEE — The 111th Quartermaster Company Mortuary Affairs Unit got set to deploy to Afghanistan and Kuwait for six months. On April 3, the 44 soldiers in the unit said goodbye to their family and friends after a deployment ceremony at Fort Lee.
The company’s mission is to recover and prepare the remains of fallen soldiers. The 111th Quartermaster Company is one of two active duty mortuary affairs units in the U.S. Army. As the 44 soldiers stood at attention during the ceremony, surrounded by their friends, family and fellow comrades, Lt. Col. Ki Young Pak, commander of the 82nd Special Troops Battalion, reminded them of their importance in the Army.
“Because of all of you, the family members of all the fallen heroes can know that their loved ones were cared for from the far reaches of their operation all the way to their final resting place. The importance of your mission cannot be overstated.”
Pak also told the soldiers that they have proven to perform their duties with “dignity, reverence and respect.”
The 111th Quartermaster Company was officially activated in October of 2005. Before the unit was activated, soldiers had been sent to assist in the relief efforts from the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans.
Since July of 2006, the mortuary affairs unit has conducted six-month rotations of two platoons, Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
As the ceremony winded down, with the bus waiting outside the gym to take the soldiers to their next mission, and the soldiers getting ready to say their goodbyes, Pak said those sitting in the gym were a “team” waiting for their safe return home.
“Good luck and I look forward to welcoming you back home,” he said.