National Guard troops training at the Groner Pitts National Guard Armory here will be honored with an appreciation dinner this evening at the armory, hosted by VFW Post 3278 and the Ladies Auxiliary.
The citizen soldiers are training for deployment, probably in November, and in what will be the second largest call up since 3,300 were deployed in 2005. Some 615 troops from the 949th Brigade Support Battalion of Fort Worth - which includes soldiers from Brown County, as well as other locations in the state - have been training here for several months, and will begin moving to Fort Stewart, Ga., for additional training in coming weeks.
This evening’s meal will include a choice of chicken, hamburgers and hot dogs, potato salad and macaroni salad and beans, said Dee Denison. But also, someone from the VFW post in Rowena is donating 300 pounds of German sausage. Denison said the auxiliary had put the information “out in the community” soliciting desserts for the troops, and the “response has been great.”
Anyone wanting to contribute a dessert can bring it by the VFW Hall between noon and 2 p.m. today.
“These men and women are leaving their lives to protect ours,” said Auxiliary member Cheryl Campbell. “We want to show our appreciation and offering them a meal with good, down-home-like food maybe helps communicate that.”
The food service will begin at 5 p.m. Denison said there would be live music and a deejay.
“We want everyone to enjoy themselves, to feel appreciated. I think it’s going to really be a good time for everyone.”
The event is closed, limited to Guard members only.
According to Col. William Meehan of the Texas National Guard, the November deployment will include the approximately 600 troops from the 949th Brigade Support Battalion and some of the guard troops from the 111th Engineer Battalion, all of whom are among the 3,000 troops of the 56th Brigade Combat Unit. But, Meehan said, the 111th Engineer Battalion is not slated for deployment as a unit.
Some of the soldiers from the 111th will be going in November, but only some, he stressed.
The Groner Pitts National Guard Armory has been a training site almost continuously since the fall of 2006, when the armory became the new home of the 111th Engineer Battalion of Abilene.
“The Brownwood training facility has been very important to us. The support of the community is just fantastic,” Meehan said.
Troops are expected to be deployed for about a year.