ST. GEORGE – With the impending deployment of the Utah National Guard 2nd Battalion 2-22nd Field Artillery Unit, Battalion Commander Brad Fuller marvels at the support Southern Utah provides its soldiers.
Fuller said one of the major successes of a deployment is the community reinforcement that military families receive in Southern Utah. Fuller said not only are families making a sacrifice to be separated from their loved ones but so are local businesses that, because of a deployment, have to fill a vacant position.
“The community of Southern Utah, when you look at everything that’s going on, is outstanding when it comes to offering its support,” Fuller said.
Nevertheless, deployment is not easy even for veteran military families. Chris Graff, father of Sergeant Nathan Graff, is dreading the deployment of the Battalion, better known as the Triple Deuce. Graff has seen his son off three times before and said it does not get any easier.
“There is a sense of loss with him not being in the family unit and not having him at family get-togethers,” he said. “It makes the time you have together that much more valuable.”
Graff said his son joined the Armed Forces as a junior in high school. With tears in his eyes, he said his son has matured in many ways since enlisting as a teenager.
“I now see him as a man that he is,” Graff said. “He has matured in so many ways since he left as a little boy.”
He said with this being the fourth deployment, the family knows the resources that are available to them, such as the Family Readiness Program. This is a program that the National Guard has that provides support and information for families who are sending off a soldier.
Graff said although he is proud of his son’s service, from a parent’s point of view, he would like a cap on the number of times one service man can be deployed.
“When that certain number is reached, whatever it is, then he would not be allowed to go again,” Graff said. “I have a feeling, if that ever went into place, my son would be very disappointed.”
LTC Hank McIntire, spokesperson for the Utah National Guard, said Southern Utah is meeting its recruiting goals every year. He said ever since the Sep. 11 terrorist attacks, people who are enlisting have a clear picture of what to expect.
“Those who join today know that it is very likely that they will be deployed and be in harm’s way,” McIntire said.
He said even though the Triple Deuce have a security mission, the environment is hostile. Even with the death of al-Quada leader Osama bin Laden, our security mission to Iraq remains the same, said McIntire. Security and combat are one and the same, McIntire said. The 475 soldiers deploy on June 4. McIntire said he has not seen a more supportive community than that of Southern Utah.
“They know how to take care and rally around their troops,” McIntire said. “They do it right.”
Copyright St. George News