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45th Infantry deployment ceremony held in downtown OKC

Thousands crowded downtown Oklahoma City locations Wednesday to say goodbye to Oklahoma National Guard members preparing to deploy to Afghanistan.
BY BRYAN DEAN bdean@opubco.com Modified: February 16, 2011 at 6:24 pm •  Published: February 16, 2011

Wyatt's son, Maj. Colby Wyatt, is among the soldiers deploying to Afghanistan. It is his third overseas deployment.

“We need to make sure we have each other's backs,” Lt. Gen. Wyatt said, addressing family members in attendance.

Fallin said it is important people realize it isn't just the soldiers making sacrifices. Their families are also sacrificing for their country as their soldiers are gone for a year.

“They are going to miss birthdays and anniversaries, maybe the first day of school for a child or maybe even the birth of a child,” Fallin said. “Families, we are going to be here for you. We are going to be here as a state.”

In addition to the soldiers from the 45th, some smaller units also will deploy, including the 146th Air Support Operations Squadron from the Oklahoma Air National Guard. It is the first time units from the Oklahoma Army and Air National Guards will deploy in support of one another.

Several teams from other Guard units also will deploy to help train members of the Afghan military.

The main ceremony took place inside the Oklahoma City Arena, but some soldiers and airmen watched with their families from the Cox Convention Center to make room for all those attending. The ceremony included video presentations and music from the 145th Army Band.

Families and friends frequently broke into applause and stood for the soldiers.

The troops are preparing to begin training at Camp Gruber, near Muskogee, and will receive more training at Fort Polk, La., before they head overseas, likely in June. The 45th will take part in both offensive and defensive operations in Afghanistan and will be in the thick of fighting there.

Maj. Gen. Myles L. Deering, adjutant general for the state, led the 45th when it deployed to Iraq in 2008. The unit did not lose anyone on that deployment. Deering said the 45th will be ready when it leaves for Afghanistan.

“It will be one of the finest trained and led units in the United States military, not just the National Guard,” Deering said.


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