DANBURY, Conn. -- With smiles, hugs and some tears, 32 members of the 411th Civil Affairs Battalion enjoyed a large sendoff ceremony attended by about 100 people Friday at a deployment ceremony held at the Veterans Armed Forces Reserve Center in Danbury.
The unit, a part of the U.S. Army Reserves, will be on a yearlong deployment conducting civil military operations in Djibouti this summer as a part of Operation Enduring Freedom to combat terrorism.
According to company commander Maj. Andres Gil, a ceremony is held each time a unit is about to deploy. "It gives the families of those who are deploying an official point of embarkation," he said.
Reginald Kornegay, commander of the 411th Civil Affairs Battalion, assured the friends and family members who attended the ceremony that however challenging a situation the soldiers are embarking upon, they are more than capable of conquering it.
"The Horn of Africa is extremely volatile right now. Whether this is their first or fourth time being deployed, each soldier goes into this situation together and by my direction, they will return together. I am confident that what I'm sending is America's best," he said.
Danbury Mayor Mark Boughton offered the soldiers words of encouragement and praise. "It's a noble thing that you are doing for us, for the citizens of the United States of America, so we can peaceably assemble and express our opinion. I am deeply humbled, deeply honored to be here and for the service you are providing to our nation."
This is the sixth deployment of 54-year-old First Sgt. Frank Barry of Easton. Since 1995, he has been deployed to Guantanamo Bay, Kosovo, Iraq and Africa.
"The communication with my family has gotten better each time I go. In my first deployment, we used snail mail, later we used email and now we have Skype. The last time I was deployed, in 2013, my two cats were able to hear my voice on Skype and were looking around for me," he said, chuckling.
Barry said he was not nervous about his deployment since he has been to the area before and knows what to expect. "It's beginning to be old hat," he said.
Former Bethel resident Debbie Glaberman felt bittersweet about watching as her son, 31-year-old Staff Sgt. Matthew Glaberman, was deployed. "This is his second deployment. He spent eight months in Kuwait in 2009," said Glaberman, who now lives in North Carolina.
"While I will miss him very much, I'm very proud of him for serving his country."