An unconventional send off
LE MARS — The sendoff for Iowa National Guard Troop C, 1st Squadron “Red Horse,” 113th Cavalry Regiment was different than normal due to restrictions with the COVID-19 pandemic. The approximately 90 soldiers were honored at a formal ceremony Monday morning with that ceremony live-streamed on Facebook so family members and friends who weren’t able to attend could watch.
Brigadier General Steve Kremer, assistant adjutant general of readiness for the Iowa National Guard, thanked family members for watching the stream as they could not be there in person.
“I know this is not the way we prefer to do sendoff ceremonies, but based on the current COVID-19 environment, obviously this was the best way we could come up with to keep soldiers, families and communities safe as these soldiers head out the door,” Kremer said.
In his speech, Kremer said the sendoff had special meaning to him as he was once a member of a unit based in Le Mars.
“The 113th Cav. Squadron and its troops are very near and dear to me,” Kremer said. “This is where I personally spent time as a junior officer in Le Mars as part of the 2nd 133, as well as my time as a field grade officer underneath the Cav. when we were able to deploy to Kosovo back in ’03 and ’04. I often say this is where I learned my leadership skills that allowed me to continue to move up the ranks, but most important allowed me to be successful for my time for my last deployment to Afghanistan in 2010-11. What I remember more than anything about the Cav. is the amazing soldiers, NCOs and officers that were able to accomplish any mission given to them.”
The mission for the cavalry troop will be deployment for Operation Enduring Freedom in the United States Africa Command Area of Responsibility. The U.S. AFRICOM is responsible for U.S. military operations, exercises and security cooperation activities on the African continent, its island nations and surrounding waters.
“What all of you are doing here today is extremely important,” Kremer said. “It has meaning and you will continue a long tradition of Cav. troopers as well as Iowa Guardsmen stepping up in support of this great state and nation.”
Captain Kyle Cooper, unit commander, said while many emotions would be going through soldiers and their families, one should stand out.
“I know that you’re feeling many emotions today, but I encourage each and every one of you to place one of those emotions over all others, and that is pride,” Cooper said. “Everyone watching this should feel overwhelmingly proud of their soldiers and the job that they are being asked to complete.”
The ceremony also included a recorded message from Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds and a presentation of an Iowa flag to be flown at the base the group is stationed at.
Le Mars Mayor Dick Kirchoff also addressed the troops at the sendoff ceremony, saying the community supports their efforts.
“On behalf of Plymouth County and the City of Le Mars, we not only are behind you, but we’re also very proud of your mission that you are taking on,” Kirchoff said. “We are very much aware, it’s not only hard on yourself, but also the families you are leaving behind. We want you to know that this community is very generous and concerned, so if there’s anything we can do to make this mission more successful for you and your families, we want you to know that the door is open. We are saying farewell today, but we are all looking forward with confidence to say hello when you return. Our prayers are with each one of you. God bless each one of you. God bless our military and God bless America.”
This is the third federal mobilization for Troop C since 2001 with the troop previously deploying to Iraq in 2005 and Afghanistan in 2010. After the sendoff ceremony, the soldiers loaded buses and were escorted through Le Mars along a parade route. The troop will next travel to Ft. Bliss, Texas, where they will complete their final training and readiness checks before deploying overseas. The deployment is expected to last approximately one year.