By Barbara Wilson
Joint Force Headquarters - Illinois National Guard
SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS – A mobilization ceremony was held at the Illinois Military Academy on Camp Lincoln in Springfield, Illinois May 22 for seven Soldiers who will deploy to the Horn of Africa as part of an Aviation team.
Members of Detachment 5, Company A, 2nd Battalion, 245th Aviation Regiment will provide operational support airlift to Department of Defense components as well as other government agencies operating in the Horn of Africa area of responsibility.
“These Soldiers today are the most critical part of what we do,” said Brig. Gen. Richard Neely, Illinois National Guard Adjutant General. “Each of you epitomize what it means to be a Minuteman – not only ready to protect your neighbors, and the homeland, but ready to deploy to defend your nation if called upon.”
This is the fourth deployment for the unit, which had previously deployed in 2007, 2010 and 2014. Detachment 5, Company A, is a fixed wing operational support airlift unit and will be attached to Combined Joint Task Force – Horn of Africa, flying C-12 aircraft based at Camp Lemonnier, Djibouti.
“Thank you to our families for allowing us to do what we do every day,” said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Jason Stiff, Commander, Detachment 5. “We deploy a lot and you keep things under control to the best you can. I’ve sat in your seat and it’s a tremendous burden.”
The Soldiers will undergo training at Fort Bliss, Texas prior to deploying to Africa. The unit is expected to return Spring 2020.
“We understand today is bittersweet as you anticipate the deployment and are excited about the operation, however you will be saying goodbye to loved ones as you start this important mission” said Neely. “To the families, the Illinois National Guard is here to support you as your Soldier is deployed.”
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker presents an Illinois flag to Chief Warrant Officer 5 Jason Stiff of Pawnee, Illinois, Commander, Detachment 5, Company A, 2nd Battalion, 245th Aviation Regiment, during the mobilization ceremony May 22 at Camp Lincoln, Springfield, Illinois. The unit will deploy to the Horn of Africa. Joining Pritzker and Stiff is Illinois Adjutant General Brig. Gen. Richard Neely. (U.S. Army photo by Barbara Wilson, Illinois National Guard Public Affairs Office.)
“This is one of the most seasoned aviation units in the Army,” said Stiff, who touted the team’s 150 years of military service and 15,000 flight hours with 25 percent of those hours flown in combat. “The mission is first. We’ll take care of the equipment, but most of all we’ll take care of each other.”