U.S. Army Soldiers assigned to Detachment 3 (DET 3), Company C, 2nd Battalion, 641st Aviation Regiment (2-641 AVN REG), 103rd Troop Command (103 TC), Hawaii Army National Guard (HIARNG), conducted a Yellow Ribbon Program/ Strong Bond event as they prepare to deploy to Kuwait in support of Operation Spartan Shield, Feb. 3, 2024.
Soldiers assigned to “DET 3” will be providing flight transport operations within the Persian Gulf and surrounding critical areas.
“We’re covering the whole Persian Gulf, anywhere from Iraq and Syria all the way down to the United Arab Emirates,” said U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 4 Dean S. Kozel, commander of Charlie Company, 2-641 AVN REG. “We’ll fly in places like Dubai and Abu Dhabi, but at the same time, we also get the opportunity to fly into some areas that are a little bit more critical when Soldiers truly need us.”
The Yellow Ribbon Program is a Department of Defense-wide effort to promote the well-being of National Guard members, their families and communities by connecting them with resources throughout the deployment cycle.
“This deployment will help me with my parents who live on the Big Island,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Ronnel John Ray Pascua, an aviation operations specialist assigned to the 2-641 AVN REG, 103 TC, HIARNG. “There’s a lot of things that they’ve given to support me living in this very expensive area. They financially supported me, and I’d like for them to live comfortably, with me providing for them.”
The Soldiers attending were given resources and guidance on benefits such as education, resilience training, medical and family services.
“I’m going to be covering an administrative operations slot but I’m also a combat engineer,” says Spc. Gabriela Oritz, a Human Resource Specialist assigned to the 2-641 AVN REG, 103 TC, HIARNG. “Personally for me, it’s going to be a very good growing experience within my military career.”
Deployments for the Soldiers give them the opportunity to represent their individual skill sets and award them with many fulfilling experiences.
“In terms of learning, deployment will be a more tactical based environment,” says Pascua. “It’ll be a bit more out of my comfort zone as opposed to my daily IDT (Inactive Duty Training) status.”
The deployment is for a period of five to 10 months, depending on assignments.
“I’ve never deployed until now but I’m fairly experienced with airplanes and have primarily trained around Hawaii for the Army,” said U.S. Army Chief Warrant Officer 2 Christopher K. Smoot, a fixed-wing pilot assigned to the 2-641 AVN REG, 103 TC, HIARNG.“I just came out of the training pipeline for the C-12 and look forward to adding to the mission overseas. I’m excited to use my skill set in the real world.”
Each Soldier deploying wears their Special Flight Detachment unit patch on their left shoulder, signifying who they are and representing their motto, “Move it or lose it”.
“If they call us and need to go somewhere, we’ll make it happen. They call, we’ll haul,” said Smoo