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Inspiring and educational stories of West Virginia military veterans, their families and communities.

West Virginia Army Reservists Deploying to Afghanistan and Kosovo

Staff Sgt. William Johnson and his family share a meal during the December drill weekend and annual Christmas party for the U.S. Army Reserve’s 363rd Military Police Company.
Chip Hitchcock

Last month, President Obama announced the end of combat operations in Afghanistan.  Some news organizations went so far as to say the war was over.

But for soldiers and their families from the Army Reserves’ 363rd Military Police Company – headquartered in Grafton, WV - the war isn’t over.  This spring, some of these soldiers will be deploying to Afghanistan.

The Battle Roster

The U.S. still has over 10,000 troops in Afghanistan. Possible troop assignments include:

  • Advise and train the Afghanistan army and police (primary role)
  • Conduct air strikes and provide other types of air support
  • Protect themselves if threatened
  • Assist the Afghanistan security forces if necessary

Soldiers listen to names called out in the “battle roster,” which is the list of soldiers deploying to Afghanistan this April. (2015)
Credit Chip Hitchcock / WVPublic
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WVPublic
Soldiers from 3rd Platoon listen to the current list of who is deploying. Some members of their families are in the back. Spc. Shane Delong, who is wearing the green uniform in the front row, will be deploying to Afghanistan.

During their December drill weekend, soldiers from the 363 Military Police Company, gathered to hear the names listed on the “battle rosters” which is the list of deploying soldiers. (The Army asked us not to report the names because the lists are still in flux.)

After the Afghanistan battle roster was read, the soldiers heard the battle roster for the troops going to Kosovo.  That’s another war you might have thought was over.  But the United States has supplied soldiers to the NATO peacekeeping force there since 1999.  The U.S. is currently contributing about 750 soldiers to NATO’s 4,500-soldier peacekeeping force.

Sgt. 1st Class Lahomma Fowler talked to her platoon about the deployment. Fowler explained to her soldiers: “If you have vouchers pending for dental, medical, hearing – any of that stuff - when you call to make your appointment, you tell them: ‘I am a dep
Credit Chip Hitchcock / WVPublic
/
WVPublic
Sgt. 1st Class Lahomma Fowler talked to her platoon about the deployment. Fowler explained to her soldiers: “If you have vouchers pending for dental, medical, hearing – any of that stuff - when you call to make your appointment, you tell them: ‘I am a deploying soldier. I need to be seen as soon as possible.’”

The News Sinks In

Sgt. 1st Class Fowler deployed to Iraq with the 363 MP’s in 2009.  During this deployment she will be the non-commissioned officer in charge of the 25 soldiers heading to Kosovo.

“When you first find out your name has come up to be deployed,” Fowler said, “immediately there’s this thought process that goes through your brain: ‘Oh, I’m going to go do this!’ But when it starts sinking in, it’s that sobering thought:  ‘Oh, I’m going to be gone.'”

Sgt. 1st Class Fowler goes on to list common worries: How are my bills going to get paid? How is my house going to be taken care of? Who’s going to cut my grass?

One of the soldiers deploying to Afghanistan: Spc. Jakob Mays of Fairmont. "I'm pumped. This will be my fourth deployment, so this is just another skip in the ballpark for me. I'm excited because I've never been to Afghanistan before."
Credit Chip Hitchcock / WVPublic
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WVPublic
One of the soldiers deploying to Afghanistan is Spc. Jakob Mays of Fairmont. "I'm pumped. This will be my fourth deployment, so this is just another skip in the ballpark for me. I'm excited because I've never been to Afghanistan before."

3 Months Out

During the next three months, the soldiers will get ready for their spring deployment.  Like all Reservists, they will refresh and sharpen their skills during once-a-month weekend drills. This March, they’ll put all their skills together.

“When we get to annual training in March,” Sgt. 1st Class Fowler explains, “we’ll be able to run these missions, and do what we call ‘War Fighter’, or ‘War Games’, which is full speed… just like you would be performing these tasks while you were deployed.”

Sgt. Ashley Snyder plays with her son and some of the other soldiers' children during the 363 Military Police annual Christmas party.  Sgt. Snyder will be deploying to Kosovo.
Credit Chip Hitchcock / WVPublic
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WVPublic
Sgt. Ashley Snyder plays with her son and some of the other soldiers' children during the 363 Military Police annual Christmas party. Sgt. Snyder will be deploying to Kosovo.


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