SAVANNAH, Ga. (WSAV) — Third Infantry Division soldiers partook in an age-old tradition of saying goodbye to loved ones, before departing to go overseas.
The troops left Savannah for deployment to Europe. Just last month — The 165th Airlift Wing got the notice.
Officials say the 165th was given short notice before deploying from the Savannah-Hilton Head International airport on Feb. 16. They will be supporting U.S. Air Forces in Europe with additional aircraft and airmen.no word yet on how long they will be gone.
Now it’s the 3rd ID’s turn to ship out.
About 180 soldiers were well on their way to Germany Wednesday for a deployment that could take them away from loved ones for up to 6 months. Most of the soldiers WSAV spoke with say it’s a stressful mission, because there’s so much uncertainty ahead.
Waiting to leave, soldiers of the 3rd ID enjoyed some comforts of home and refamiliarize themselves with the tools of war.
“I’m going to Germany, but I’m also nervous,” One soldier said. “Just the unknown.”
These 180 members of the 3rd Battalion 69th Armor Regiment will support NATO allies in Germany with intelligence and training, as the world waits for what comes next in Russia’s attack on Ukraine.
For some, like private first-class Juan Gonzales from Washington state, it’s their first deployment.
“Georgia’s the furthest I’ve ever been from home, so now I’m going somewhere actually further, so I’m kind of a little nervous, but besides that I’m ok,” Gonzales said.
Others like Sgt. Diana Armogan have deployed before, most recently to South Korea last year. They leave behind loved ones, and like many of us complicated lives.
“I’m currently going through a divorce,” Armogan said. That’s like a major life stressor, but other than that just leaving my family that’s never easy.”
But family forms fast among soldiers. Everyone here knows they’ll have to rely on each other to survive the physical and mental challenges ahead.
“One of the things we like to reinforce is that we are a family,” another soldier said before boarding the plane. “There’s a lot of strong bonds here between every single soldier. We’re all deploying in support of our nation and we all have that shared goal and that shared trust.”
As a show of support, Savannah Mayor Van Johnson not only attended Wednesday’s deployment, he greeted every soldier as they boarded the plane.
“I’ve encountered young people that are resolute; they’re engaged; they’re motivated, to go and do what they’ve signed up to do and so I’m here to be supportive of those efforts,” Johnson said.
And just for good measure, the soldiers are taking a little extra support in the form of a black panther, a symbol of the battalion’s speed and power.
“The Panter is the battalion’s mascot, and we take it wherever we can,” a soldier said when speaking of the black panther. “It provides some moral and motivation to our troops when they see it, and it just gives us something to rally around.”
Wednesday’s 369th Armor Battalion deployment of 180 soldiers is part of a much larger deployment of 3,800 of the Army’s 3rd ID.