BOSTON (SHNS) – Soldiers from the Massachusetts National Guard were feted Sunday at a send-off ceremony before being deployed to various locations across the Middle East to support the United States’ ongoing military actions against ISIS.
The guardsmen, stationed at Camp Edwards on Cape Cod and in Westfield, are part of the 3rd Battalion, 126th Aviation Regiment and are being deployed to participate in Operation Inherent Resolve, the Mass. National Guard said. It is the battalion’s fourth deployment in support of Operation Inherent Resolve and first since 2019.
“The Massachusetts National Guard is a dual mission force. We have to be ready to meet the needs of both our state and the country. Today, we are reminded that our primary mission is to fight and win our nation’s wars,” Maj. Gen. Gary Keefe, the state’s adjutant general, said. “With nearly a dozen deployments in support of contingency operations in the Middle East, the men and women of the 126th Aviation are once again prepared to serve their nation overseas.”
The Mass. National Guard said that it has “participated in each of our nation’s conflicts” since it was formed in 1636. Since the wars in the Middle East began in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, more than 20,000 Mass. National Guard soldiers have been deployed overseas.
On Saturday, jets from the Mass. National Guard’s 104th Fighter Wing in stationed at Barnes Air National Guard Base in Westfield were part of the efforts to shoot down a Chinese spy balloon off of South Carolina. “We’re very proud to have taken part today,” Col. David “Moon” Halasi-Kun, the unit’s commander, said in a statement. “As part of our 24/7/365 mission to protect the United States from aerial threats, we launched two F-15C Eagles in support of the successful downing of the Peoples Republic of China surveillance balloon.”