The Louisiana National Guard’s 256th Infantry Brigade Combat Team will hold ceremonies and farewell events throughout the state from Nov. 10-18. Following each ceremony, the soldiers will depart Louisiana.
The Lafayette unit ceremony was Tuesday at 11 a.m.
Here's the video:
With units located throughout the state in areas of Shreveport, Natchitoches, Alexandria, Lake Charles, Lafayette, Baton Rouge, and New Orleans, approximately 2,000 guardsmen are scheduled to deploy to the Middle East in support of U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) operations. Including premobilization training at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas, the soldiers will be away from home for nearly one year.
Due to the current global pandemic, the majority of the ceremonies are “military only”, while family and friends are able to live-stream via the LANG Facebook page.
KATC TV3 will live-stream the Lafayette ceremonies on our website and Facebook page as well.
This will be the 256th’s third overseas deployment since 9/11.
In addition to Lafayette, ceremonies were held Tuesday in New Orleans and Alexandria. the 1-141st Field Artillery Regiment is headquartered and departed from New Orleans; the 199th Brigade Support Batallion, headquartered in Alexandria, held a ceremony and departed from there on Tuesday.
The ceremony in Lafayette was held for the 3-156th Infantry Regiment, headquartered in Lake Charles. During the ceremony, Major Nicholas Acosta spoke before deploying overseas for the third time in 16 years.
"I have two little girls at home, my oldest has been through three times with me. My youngest, this is her second time going through this with me," Acosta said.
During his previous deployments, family members would enjoy several hours together before watching their loved ones leave.
"The two times before that I went, mom, dad, the kids were there," Acosta explained. "More family members were involved in this, the community showed their support."
Now, because of COVID-19, the departure is for military only - cutting the goodbyes short.
"It's heartbreaking, we knew this time was coming and now that it's here, it's like 'man'," Sgt. Javian Adams said.
"It never gets easier," added Acosta. "It was tough prior to coming here, but we made the most of that goodbye."
Although they're leaving amid a pandemic and a record-breaking hurricane season, these soldiers say they are ready to serve their country.
"I'm just praying that everything is better when we come back, honestly," Adams said.
You can watch the deployment ceremonies HERE.