Staunton Stonewall Brigade prepares to deploy to Afghanistan

“For those who have fought for it,
freedom has a flavor the protected will never know.”

The letter arrived in the mail last week alerting the church family that a staff member was being deployed to Afghanistan, most likely in mid-May. A member of the U.S. Army Reserves and National Guard for the past 16 years, he will be one of the group of 170 soldiers heading out with the Staunton-based Stonewall Brigade.

It made the previous day’s joyous return of 1st Lt. Phillip Lacey, who had spent the prior year in Afghanistan, bittersweet as the news spread not only throughout the church but throughout the community that Staunton’s 116th was preparing to ship out for the next 12-18 months in support of operations in Afghanistan. One soldier comes home … another leaves.

The historic Stonewall Brigade — the 116th Brigade Combat Team for the National Guard — had previously mobilized in 2007 to Iraq. Hundreds of residents from Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County as well as other areas turned out to see them off, and then hundreds again welcomed them home the following year.

As they prepare to leave their families and friends for this latest deployment, we will keep them in our prayers and thoughts. God bless all the soldiers of the Stonewall Brigade whose mobilization reminds us that freedom is not free.

Information will be posted as soon as it is available about when they plan to leave so the SWAC community can again help see them off and thank them for their service.

Coverage of 2011 deployment:
– Waynesboro News Virginian: Staunton-based Guard soldiers prepare for Afghanistan
– Staunton News Leader: 116th to mobilize for Afghanistan
– NBC-29: Staunton National Guard Heading to Afghanistan
– WHSV TV-3: 116th National Guard Brigade to deploy to Afghanistan
– Washington Post: Staunton-based National Guard members mobilized for duty in Afghanistan

Previous posts about the 116th May 2007 deployment …
Send-off for the 116th out of Staunton Friday
They all came to say farewell to the 116th Stonewall Brigade
A final farewell
Flags, flags, flags for the 116th Stonewall Brigade
Farewell 116th — the Stonewall Brigade
“We are praying for the 116th”
Staunton Armory’s 116th prepares for Iraq

… and their return in February 2008:
They’re coming home! Stonewall Brigade back from Iraq
SWAC – join us TODAY to welcome our heroes home from Iraq
Homecoming for 116th Stonewall Brigade … thankful for a safe return from Iraq
Homecoming for 116th Stonewall Brigade … Grace Christian turns out for classmate’s dad
Homecoming for 116th Stonewall Brigade … “Daddy’s home”
Homecoming for 116th Stonewall Brigade … more photos
Homecoming for 116th Stonewall Brigade … Congressman Goodlatte welcomes home troops
Homecoming for 116th Stonewall Brigade … well-wishers came from other areas
Homecoming for 116th Stonewall Brigade … the yellow ribbons
Homecoming for 116th Stonewall Brigade … these colors don’t run
Homecoming for 116th Stonewall Brigade … “Dear American Soldier”
Homecoming for 116th Stonewall Brigade … the signs
Homecoming for 116th Stonewall Brigade … Westies for the USA!
Homecoming for 116th Stonewall Brigade … more photos of Grace Christian students
Homecoming for 116th Stonewall Brigade … “you’ve got to have friends”
Homecoming for 116th Stonewall Brigade … even more photos
Homecoming for 116th Stonewall Brigade … a sweetheart returns
Thanks, Gideon at Red State, for recognition of the 116th Stonewall Brigade

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell