HARRISBURG – Gov. Tom Wolf joined approximately 500 soldiers with the Pennsylvania National Guard’s 28th Infantry Division Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion (HHBN) as they were honored in a ceremony at the Zembo Shrine in Harrisburg Saturday.
The soldiers were preparing to depart for a deployment to the Middle East in support of Operation Spartan Shield (OSS).
“As Pennsylvanians, we are honored and proud to support our service members, veterans and their families,” said Wolf.
“Thank you, 28th Infantry Division, for your willingness to serve and your dedication to your fellow man. Know that while you are deployed, Pennsylvania will pray for you and continue to support your families. Best wishes for a safe deployment.”
The 28th Infantry Division HHBN will provide support services for several thousand additional troops supporting OSS to include personnel, training and logistics. They will also partner with allied military units operating in the region.
“In 1918, the 28th Division earned its nickname, the Iron Division, in the fierce fighting of World War I. Now, a century later, you embark on this major commitment to defend freedom and liberty throughout the world. You join the more than 35,000 other members of the Pennsylvania National Guard that have deployed and sacrificed since 9/11,” said Maj. Gen. Tony Carrelli, Pennsylvania’s adjutant general.
“This next year will be very challenging for you and your families. We cannot thank you enough for your service to commonwealth and country.”
Established in 1879, the 28th Infantry Division is the oldest division in the U.S. Army. The last time the entire division headquarters mobilized was in preparation for the Korean War.
However, elements of the headquarters were deployed in 2002 and 2003 to lead the NATO peacekeeping missions in Kosovo and Bosnia.
This is the headquarters’ first deployment to the Middle East, though many members have previously deployed with other units in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“The 28th Infantry Division is aware of the strain and sacrifice families endure when their loved ones deploy,” said 28th Infantry Division Commander Maj. Gen. Andrew P. Schafer Jr.
“Every measure is taken to help make the process as predictable as possible to allow soldiers and their families to plan for deployment.”
Deployment ceremonies are held to honor the courage needed both by those who serve and the families, friends and employers who support them.