COLONIE — New York's soldiers who faced high winds and raging floodwater from recent disasters are preparing to head off for training before braving bullets and bombs at the start of 2014.
Roughly 450 soldiers from the New York Army National Guard, members of the 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade, will be training in Fort Hood, Texas, before leaving for Kuwait.
About 60 aviation soldiers from the Army Aviation Support Facility at Albany International Airport left for Fort Hood on Sept. 25, bringing 10 Blackhawk helicopters with them in advance of another 300 soldiers from Latham, Dunkirk, Rochester and Long Island set to depart Friday.
Eric Durr, spokesman for the New York Division of Military and Naval Affairs, said the local soldiers will be supporting military missions as well as defending Kuwait.
“The U.S. military has had a consistent military presence in Kuwait since 1991,” Durr said.
Kuwait was overrun by Iraqi forces in August of 1990. The invasion was followed by several weeks of bombardment by a U.S.-led United Nations coalition.
American soldiers then started a ground assault — repelling the Iraqis in four days. Since then, Kuwait has served as an American ally in the Middle East.
The 42nd Combat Aviation Brigade, of the 42nd Infantry Division, draws from 11 states, according to the DMNA.
The brigade last deployed to Iraq in May of 2004, returning in November of 2005 to support flight operations across four Iraqi provinces.
The soldiers will be providing aviation support for military forces stationed in Kuwait; the headquarters personnel will be commanding roughly 1,2050 troops which include 800 active Army, Mighigan Army National Guard and Delaware Army National Guard aviation and aviation support soldiers, according to DMNA.
Durr said, in general, the soldiers heading to Fort Hood will be performing support aviation missions, transporting personnel and gear. The Apache helicopters are heading out in the event there’s a need of force.
Training other country military personnel will be another task, Durr said.
The entire brigade has been training for the past 18 months for its deployment, according to the DMNA.
The brigade will be training at Fort Hood until November and then be sent to Kuwait for about 10 months.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo, in a statement issued Sept. 25, offered words of support and pride to the soldiers.
“These men and women have served New Yorkers well, including providing critical storm response during the last few years, and now they have answered the call to serve our nation overseas,” Cuomo said.
"We look forward to seeing them return home safe and sound."