News

Williston hosts soldier sendoff

Guard members head to Europe, Africa

BY DON BRANUM

Vermont National Guard

A sendoff ceremony for the Vermont National Guard’s 172nd Law Enforcement Detachment was held Jan. 25 at the Guard Armory in Williston. The sendoff marked the departure of the unit to Fort Bliss, Texas, the first step in a yearlong deployment to Europe and Africa.

Vermont Gov. Phil Scott and Maj. Gen. Greg Knight, Vermont’s adjutant general, spoke at the ceremony, assuring soldiers that the Guard and the state would take care of their families throughout the deployment.

“I’m sure it’s not easy leaving your family and friends, especially in the middle of a pandemic that’s completely changed our lives over the past year,” Gov. Scott said. “I can assure you, while you do your part to keep us safe, we’ll continue to do ours by supporting and protecting your families while you’re away.”

The soldiers will be supporting the U.S. Army in Europe and Africa, where they will conduct customs, traffic enforcement, investigations and force protection duties, the detachment commander.

The unit has trained for more than a year for the mission, capped by a Jan. 15-16 evaluation at the Ethan Allen training site in Jericho. The evaluation included tests on a number of scenarios they might encounter during the deployment, including traffic stops, criminal investigations and interpersonal disputes.

“We told them many times that they were one of the best units that we’ve trained in the northeastern region we work in,” said Staff Sgt. Alicia Foy. “We are confident they’re prepared for their deployment.”

The 172nd was reorganized from combat support to law enforcement in 2019 and has since received certification on multiple law enforcement-related tasks, including crash reconstruction, drug recognition, speed detection using radar and lidar, and standard field sobriety testing.

A partnership with local and state law enforcement agencies helped make the certifications possible.

“We relied heavily on networking with civilian law enforcement,” Slaney said. “We couldn’t have done this without them.”

The tools and certifications soldiers have received during their predeployment training could help them find careers in civilian law enforcement if they’re not already added.

During the sendoff ceremony, Maj. Gen. Knight reminded soldiers’ family members of the Guard Family Services program.

“Just know that we’re here for you,” Knight said. “We’ve got resources. Don’t hesitate to call.”

The unit left from Burlington International Airport the next day, some taking private moments to say goodbye to their families.

“I’m ready to go, but I’m going to miss my kids,” Sgt. 1st Class Charlie Winn said.

The soldiers are scheduled to return to Vermont in early 2022.

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