By Barbara Wilson
A mobilization ceremony was held at the Freeport, Illinois Masonic Temple July 20 for approximately 120 Soldiers from the 333rd Military Police Company based in Freeport, who will deploy to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The unit will support Joint Task Force Guantanamo (JTF-GTMO) providing security.
“We’re not here to say goodbye,” Brig. Gen. Mark Jackson, Assistant Adjutant General – Army said to the Soldiers, family and friends in attendance at the ceremony. “We’re here to express our gratitude, love, respect, pride and support for these young men and women who will embark on another milestone in the Illinois National Guard in service to our state and nation.”
“We are proud of you,” he said. “We have your backs so you can concentrate on your mission. Your families have our support.”
Jackson told the families of the deploying soldiers they are part of something bigger than themselves and they deserve many thanks for supporting their Soldiers.
“The families play a significant role in the lives of our Soldiers and our mission,” Jackson said. “You deserve our gratitude.”
The 333rd will be in Cuba for approximately nine months.
The 333rd was created on Sept. 1, 1997 when the 444th Chemical Company was converted to the 333rd. As a military police company, Soldiers assumed overseas training missions in Panama, Germany, Italy, Nicaragua and Belize. The company’s duties in Panama, Germany and Italy were primarily assisting the active Army conduct law-and-order base security. In Nicaragua and Belize, Soldiers were tasked with guarding engineers who built roads, schools and drilled wells for drinking water. The company also escorted medical teams to render care to the local populace.
Following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, the unit was activated under state active duty to increase security at Illinois commercial airports. The 333rd provided armed military security presence at Chicago O’Hare Airport to reinforce the civilian security function.
In February 2003, the unit was activated in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and deployed to Iraq in May. In 2004, its year-long tour was extended by the Pentagon 90 days after the company arrived safely in Kuwait. The company was among 20,000 Soldiers whose deployments were extended because of the surge of violence in Iraq.
Last mobilizing from 2008 to 2009, the 333rd served as a force protection unit, guarding U.S. troop perimeters and escorting convoys in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.