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300 members of the Utah National Guard are sent to Africa



Salt Lake City, Utah – The 204th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade and 217th Brigade Signal Company of the Utah National Guard sent about 300 soldiers to Djibouti, Africa, on Sunday. This was the unit’s largest deployment in more than ten years.

“There’s going to be a lot of humanitarian support, a lot of logistics support, we’re going to do a lot of embassy support, there’s a lot of planning and coordination. For the most part, our job is going to be pretty administrative heavy,” said Master Sgt. Michael Broadhead.

“My job specific is to kind of travel in the area and work with host nations and really be a partner choice,” said Major Mark Hruza. “What that means is there’s a lot of competing interests out there and we’re out there to help out nations and make sure they have everything they need.”

Although this is not Broadhead’s or Hruza’s first deployment, it is their first as husbands and fathers.

Hruza’s spouse and two-month-old son will be going with him.

“He’s my best friend and the person we do everything together, so I’ll miss that,” said Hruza’s wife, Crystal.

Four children and his 13-year-old wife are being left behind by Broadhead.

“I’ve cried a lot more than I ever thought that I would. Right now I’m feeling really strong because I want him to know it’s OK that he goes and we support him and love him,” his wife, Michelle, said.

Lt. Gov. Deidre Henderson sent a message to the soldiers before they left.

“I make a promise to you that the state of Utah not only is behind you, we stand with you, we stand with your loved ones, and we stand as an entire state, willing to do what we can, our little part, however insignificant, here in the state of Utah, while you are doing a much bigger part for us overseas,” Henderson said.

The men and women of the Army were surrounded by their loved ones as they spent their last moments together before departing. They gave each other hugs, gave encouraging gestures, and even wept a few tears of farewell.

“I love that he loves his job and I love that he’s working with a unit to support him, but that makes it a whole lot easier to say goodbye,” Michelle Broadhead said.

The anticipated duration of the deployment is one year.


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