Dozens of Vermont Army National Guard members set out for a year long deployment overseas Tuesday morning. They’re among the nearly one-thousand soldiers and airmen set to deploy this year.
“I’ve wanted to be in the military I think since I was in 6th grade,” said 2nd Lt. Lindsay Collins. “I used to wear camo pants to my English class everyone made fun of me, but here I am.”
The 23 year old may have nailed down the army uniform years ago, but Tuesday, a mix of nerves and excitement set in as she suited up for something new, her first deployment overseas.
“It’s finally here, you know you talk about it for so long and then you finally get to it and you’re like ‘ahh like we’re here, now what?'”
Collins is one of 60 service members in the Vermont National Guard leaving for this 1 year deployment. After months of prep work in Vermont, their first stop is Fort Sill, Oklahoma for some final training, then they’ll settle overseas at U.S. Central Command.
“You’re going to a very challenged part of the world and you’re taking care of our U.S. interests ant those of our allies,” said Maj. Gen. Gregory Knight, the guard’s adjutant general. “It’s a significant undertaking so I’m proud of the work they will be doing.”
Maj. Gen. Knight says while the state’s mission has been to provide aid during the COVID-19 pandemic, this deployment is a federal mission. All soldiers also had the opportunity to get a dose of the Moderna vaccine prior to taking off. Ian Kriger just received his second dose when we caught up.
“This is what you train for everyday,” he said. “So honestly, that excitement is there, a little bit of nerves,but that’s gonna fade away once we get into it.”
While guardsmen say they feel prepared, it will take the focus and support of one another to see them through.
“It’s important that they focus on their mission,” the adjutant general said. “I want them to not get complacent and I need them to take care of one another.”
“The fact that we operate as a family is gonna be the biggest thing that pulls us through this deployment,” Collins said.