A few hundred members of a Niantic-based Connecticut Army National Guard battalion departed Thursday for Texas where they will spend the next several weeks training before deploying to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.
The 192nd Military Police Battalion spent the past year training for the deployment, during which they will provide planning, personnel and logistical support to military police units assigned to the Joint Task Force Guantanamo.
Lt. Col. Donald Chiverton, commander of the battalion, said he and other National Guard leadership traveled to “Gitmo,” part of which is used as a detention facility for suspected terrorists, ahead of the deployment to observe operations there so that they could refine the training the battalion received. The soldiers will be deployed for about 10 months, he said. He estimated that more than half of the battalion is deploying for the first time.
One of those first-timers is Anthony Repasi, a sergeant in the National Guard. His aunt, Brittani Daniels, and his boyfriend, Anthony Munoz, saw him off on Thursday, snapping pictures on the tarmac of the Guard’s Windsor Locks Army Aviation Readiness Center as he and the rest of the battalion walked in a single file line to board their flight.
Alexandria Stone said she expected to be in regular contact with her husband, Capt. Daniel Depasquale, who has been in the Guard for about seven years, because there’s no time difference, he’ll have Internet access and cell service and expects to work consistent hours. She said their 12-year-old daughter was finding his departure difficult, but that she and the rest of the family were happy to have him home and spend time with him throughout the holidays.
Destiny Whipple was among the crowd watching the departure. Her girlfriend, Cpl. Rashae Mcleain, who works in logistics, joined the Guard about five years ago right out of high school.
“I’m nervous but more so excited because I know this is what she wants to do. I’m supportive for sure,” Whipple said.
The 192nd last deployed to Guantanamo Bay in 2015-16 in support of detainee operations. Currently, there about 120 Connecticut National Guard soldiers deployed there on a similar mission. Gov. Ned Lamont recently made a one-day trip to visit the Westbrook-based 643rd Military Policy Company, which is expected to return to the United States soon.
Jadin Murphy, whose husband, Chris Murphy, a specialist in the Guard, departed Thursday, said she’d spent the months leading up to deployment avoiding the thought of her husband leaving for such a long stretch.
“I ignored it until yesterday,” Murphy said.
Perhaps the only silver lining is that she has friends and family nearby who will support her while her husband is away.
“I won’t be alone,” she said.
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