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More than 100 Middletown-based soldiers to be sent off to yearlong deployment

Published: Monday, December 09, 2019 @ 8:56 AM

Hundreds of family and friends watched their loved ones during a call of duty ceremony Sunday afternoon, Dec. 8, 2019, at Edgewood Middle School on Trenton-Oxford Road. The soldiers of the 324th Military Police Co. in Middletown will serve a year-long deployment in support of the U.S. Southern Command operations. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF
Staff Writer
Hundreds of family and friends watched their loved ones during a call of duty ceremony Sunday afternoon, Dec. 8, 2019, at Edgewood Middle School on Trenton-Oxford Road. The soldiers of the 324th Military Police Co. in Middletown will serve a year-long deployment in support of the U.S. Southern Command operations. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF(Staff Writer)

More than 100 soldiers with the 324th Military Police Co. with the Ohio National Guard based in Middletown will soon deploy for a year to support the U.S. Southern Command operations, according to the Ohio Adjutant General’s Department.

The soldiers took part in a Sunday afternoon call to duty ceremony ahead of their deployment.

The deployment will force the soldiers to be away from family for a year’s worth of holidays, starting with Christmas.

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“It’s very tough,” said Spec. Terrell Blue, of Cincinnati. “I’m expecting it to be a difficult mission. As far as what’s going to happen when we get down there, I don’t know.”

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Hundreds of family and friends watched their loved ones during a call of duty ceremony Sunday afternoon, Dec. 8, 2019, at Edgewood Middle School on Trenton-Oxford Road. The soldiers of the 324th Military Police Co. in Middletown will serve a year-long deployment in support of the U.S. Southern Command operations. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF(Michael D. Pitman)

The deployment location was not disclosed and the U.S. Southern Command’s responsibility “encompasses 31 countries and 16 dependencies and areas of special sovereignty,” according to the command website. Military police are trained to protect the lives and property on government installations by enforcing military laws and regulations, as well as traffic control, crime prevention and responding to emergencies. This unit was last deployed in 2015.

Cpl. Darius Taite, of Cincinnati, said the transition of monthly drill weekends to a full deployment “is something that’s difficult, but I’m sure we’ll adjust just like we adjust to everything else.”

Pfc. Emily Kelly, of Greene County, said she’ll “make the best out of it” despite leaving her family for the holidays.

“I’m excited, I’m prepared, I’m ready to go,” said Kelly, who is the company’s human resources specialist.

This is Kelly’s first deployment and she has received several bits of advice, but none more important than to “keep in contact with your family, and to expect you’re going to be sad at some points from missing everyone, but you have people there to surround you.”

 
Hundreds of family and friends watched their loved ones during a call of duty ceremony Sunday afternoon, Dec. 8, 2019, at Edgewood Middle School on Trenton-Oxford Road. The soldiers of the 324th Military Police Co. in Middletown will serve a year-long deployment in support of the U.S. Southern Command operations. MICHAEL D. PITMAN/STAFF(Michael D. Pitman)

Col. Daniel Shank, Ohio assistant adjutant general for the Army led the call to duty ceremony at Edgewood Middle School on Trenton-Oxford Road.

“You are the best equipped, you are the best trained, you are the best led and you are the most lethal force this world has ever seen,” Shank said. “As a father, as a citizen, I thank you for what you’re about to do.”

He also told them they are “not in this alone.”

“You don’t have to shoulder the sacrifice by yourself,” Shank said. “We all are a family. Stand up for one another. Support one another.”

Ohio Rep. Candice Keller, R-Middletown, and Ohio Sen. Bill Coley, R-Liberty Twp., were there to help send off the soldiers.

“Thank you for your service. Thank you for your love of family. Thank you for your love of country,” Coley said.