Outside an unassuming warehouse on Ramstein, a faint laughter could be heard coming from inside. Entering the warehouse, one could see Soldiers playing cards, watching movies and relaxing with their friends.
It is not an environment one typically finds Soldiers in, but for these Soldiers it was going to be one of the last breaks they would get to enjoy for a while. These Soldiers were about to deploy, and beneath the appearance of a light atmosphere were all of the questions and last-minute worries that come with a deployment to Bagram, Afghanistan.
The Soldiers of the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 709th Military Police Battalion, 18th Military Police Brigade, based out of Grafenwöhr, Germany, along with supporting Soldiers from the 38th Human Resources Company, 16th Sustainment Brigade, 21st Theater Sustainment Command, were sitting in the warehouse waiting to get the final word that would take them to their aircraft and bring them another step closer to Afghanistan.
The Soldiers tried to relax, but for many, this would be their first experience being deployed.
Spc. Gerald Brown and his wife Pfc. Keveyonna Brown, both with the 709th MP Batallion, said there is a newness of their first deployment and a relief of getting to spend it together.
Private First Class Keveyonna said they feel very lucky they get to have the spousal support so many Soldiers miss out on during a deployment.
But, whether Soldiers are deploying for the first time or are seasoned veterans, heightened emotions were apparent.
Spc. Zachary Walters said he is prepared, anxious and excited to deploy.
Overall, the Soldiers waiting in the warehouse displayed a great deal of enthusiasm for the training they received prior to deployment and said they felt ready to be on their way.
Maj. Gen. Yves J. Fontaine, 21st TSC commanding general, visited the troops and gave them a chance to tell him about the preparations and the training they went through. Major General Fontaine walked around and talked to the Soldiers about their families, jobs, previous deployments and how they felt about the upcoming tour to Afghanistan.
Then, a voice yelled out. Outside the warehouse, the headlights of the buses cut through the dark. The Soldiers seemed ready to move out. As they formed up to prepare to leave, Major General Fontaine instructed them to stay safe and reminded them they are doing a great service.
As they made their way out of the warehouse, the Soldiers wasted no time getting themselves on board. It was just a short bus ride later and the battalion was “wheels up” and en route to Afghanistan for a 12-month deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.