By U.S. Army 1st Lt. Paul Jackson and Army Maj. Lindy White
Combined Joint Task Force 1- Afghanistan
PAKTYA PROVINCE, Afghanistan - Snow-capped mountains and dry desert lands were among some sites-to-see for Army Maj. Gen. Myles Deering, adjutant general of the Oklahoma National Guard during his recent visit with Oklahoma National Guard Soldiers deployed here.
Accompanying Deering was Army Command Sgt. Maj. Steve Jensen, state command sergeant major of Oklahoma, and during the trip Deering said the opportunity to pay a visit to these Soldiers was the true highlight of their visit.
“The visit was tremendous,” Deering said. “It was great seeing all the leaders and Soldiers out in the forward operating bases and the combat outposts...I had a tremendous time.”
Deering and Jensen were able to visit with battalion level and company level commanders with the 45th Infantry Brigade Combat Team area of operations, and at the end of their tour they visited with members of the 1st Battalion, 279th Infantry who are assigned to a different brigade headquarters.
During his visit with 1st, 279th, Deering ate lunch with several of the junior officers of Task Force Creek, spoke with leadership on the future of the Oklahoma Army National Guard and the U.S. Army as a whole and awarded the Combat Infantryman Badge to several Soldiers – a badge which is awarded for being involved in direct combat with enemy forces.
“You have learned some lessons the hard way,” Deering said. “You have to remember those lessons and take them back with you as you progress in your career. Thank you for all you do. I’m proud of you guys and the folks back home are very proud of you as well.”
“I was surprised he came out to meet with us,” said Army Spc. Jason Barrow, a member of Headquarters Company, 1st, 279th.
“I thought it was great he could be here for this,” Barrow said. “This is cool that he wanted to be a part [of this] and nice that he and [the] sergeant major cares enough about us to come and visit.”
Deering was also given a quick tour of Forward Operating Base Goode in Afghanistan's Paktya Province and a short briefing on the unit’s deployment thus far.
“General Deering has a long and distinguished history with the 45th [Infantry Brigade Combat Team]” said Army Lt. Col. Chuck Booze, TF Creek commander. “Having him here today is an honor.”
Before leaving, several Soldiers also received the two-star coin from Deering. Giving leadership coins is part of a tradition of leaders to award Soldiers who perform their jobs well and deserve the personal hand shake when the coin is exchanged.