About 180 soldiers from the Capital Region will say goodbye to family members Saturday as they begin mobilizing for military duty in Kuwait.
Members of two New York Army National Guard units from Colonie will part ways with their families at a farewell ceremony slated for 10:30 a.m. Saturday in Shaker High School.
The troops with the 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade and Company A 3rd Battalion 142nd Aviation Assault Helicopter Battalion will train with their UH-60 Blackhawk helicopters for two months at Fort Hood in Texas, then fly to Kuwait, where they will be stationed for 10 months.
The soldiers will serve in a 1,250-member force that is assigned to providing air support to U.S. Central Command units in the Persian Gulf region. Their mission also includes training soldiers from Arab countries that are aligned with the U.S., said Col. Al Ricci Sr. of Ballston Lake, commander of the 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade.
“We’re going to be doing partnerships and training, and obviously, we are on standby for anything in the region,” Ricci said. He said the forces would not be involved in any military missions in Syria.
The 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade is headquartered in Latham and part of the 42nd Infantry Division out of Troy.
It controls all Army aviation units in New York. It will contribute 10 of its 20 Blackhawk helicopters to the mission in Kuwait, Ricci said.
Also deploying from New York are soldiers with the 3rd Battalion 142nd Aviation, which is based at the Albany International Airport, and the 642nd Aviation Support Battalion, which has elements in Rochester and other parts of the state.
Ricci, 51, served two tours in Iraq in 2004 and 2009, and became commander of the 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade last October. In Kuwait, he will lead about 450 total soldiers from across New York, 400 active duty soldiers from an Army regiment at Fort Hood, and 400 National Guard troops from units in Michigan and Delaware.
“I’m confident that we can do our job,” Ricci said. “The main goal is to bring everyone home safely.”
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