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Mark Bartel of Piedmont holds 7-month old Mason outside the Mustang High School Events Center Sunday. The boy’s mom Hannah Bartel stands nearby, along with numerous other supporters that came to send off the soldier. (Photographer/Victoria Middleton)

Mark Bartel of Piedmont holds 7-month old Mason outside the Mustang High School Events Center Sunday. The boy’s mom Hannah Bartel stands nearby, along with numerous other supporters that came to send off the soldier. (Photographer/Victoria Middleton)

1345th Company poised to deploy to Southwest Asia after Mustang send-off

Patriotism and emotions were high Sunday during a deployment ceremony for the 1345th Transportation Company, 90th Troop Command, stationed at the Armed Forces Reserve Center in Mustang.

Mustang High School’s new state-of-the-art Events Center was the venue for the event where families and friends said farewell to 168 members of the 1345th, also known as the “Rolling Thunder.” The men and women left Sunday for Fort Hood, Texas for the next phase of their training, prior to going overseas.

In Southwest Asia, the Rolling Thunder will conduct tactical convoy operations by providing security escorts and ammunition resupply within their area in support of Operation Spartan Shield, an operation conducting regional engagements in much of Southwest Asia.

During the ceremony, several speakers addressed the guardsmen and women and their supporters.

“I could not ask for a better group of soldiers to deploy with and represent our unit in the Oklahoma Army National Guard,” said Capt. Dustin Ruth said, commander of the 1345th.

Maj. Gen. Robbie Asher, adjutant general for Oklahoma, guaranteed support from the Oklahoma National Guard family.

“While your loved ones are deployed, you have a family; you have a family of 9,000 strong,” Asher said. “All of us back here are here to support you with anything you may need during your loved one’s deployment.”

Other comments by leadership included that National Guard Members represent one percent of the nation and Oklahoma deploys the most of them.

Besides hosting the ceremony, Mustang Public School played a big part in the event. The Mustang High School JROTC Color Guard presented the colors and the choir sang the National Anthem and This is My Country, to which they received a standing ovation from the crowd. Also, students made posters that were hung throughout the events center, and in the lobby, a local Girl Scouts Troop 358 were all smiles with posters for departing soldiers.

Outside the Mustang High School Varsity Pom squad and FFA members were on hand to pass out candy bags filled with goodies donated by students in the Mustang school district.

As one soldier said walking up to the students, “Thank you… I feel like a kid again.”

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