Goodbyes are never easy: Soldiers of the 297th Military Police Company ready for Middle East deployment

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) — The 297th Military Police Company of the Alaska Army National Guard has been selected to support Operation Spartan Shield, a military task force in the Middle East, and company members are ready for deployment.

Staff Sgt. Sean Davis of the 297th Military Police Company embraces his children at a deployment ceremony on JBER, Wednesday, March 13, 2019. (Derek Minemyer, KTUU)

Approximately 80 men and women said formal goodbyes to friends and family at a deployment ceremony at Joint Base Elmendorf Richardson on Wednesday. The group will function as law enforcement and personnel security “to build partner capacity in the Middle East to promote regional self-reliance and increase security,” according to an Alaska National Guard press release.

Wednesday marked the last day of the company’s post-mobilization training, which prepared them to be a policing force implementing military laws and regulations.

Alaska Army National Guard Brigadier General Charles Lee Knowles introduced the company to begin the ceremony.

“Today is a big day,” Knowles said. “Soldiers of the 297th Military Police Company stand before you ready to deploy and conduct a mission they’ve trained for.”

Knowles said preparing the group for deployment was a historical and cooperative effort by service members, civilians and families — proof of how well the joint base has come to operate.

“The mobilization of the 297th MP Company on JBER served as a proof of principle for the joint base,” Knowles said. “This was the first Army home station mobilization on JBER since it became a joint base.”

At the conclusion of the ceremony, soldiers shook hands and hugged members of their families. One soldier in particular, Staff Sgt. Sean Davis, stood with three of his young boys in his arms as tears ran down his face.

“You build a family, and that year that you’re about to leave for gets real — it hits you hard,” Davis said. “You are just never ready for it, I don’t think. As much as you tell yourself, you’re never ready for it.”

As painful as it is for Davis to leave his family for the nine month deployment, he says he has faith in his training and fellow crew members.

“But I know that I know enough,” Davis said. “And I have the training, and I have the support of my command. I’ll come back.”

Capt. Kevin Fulmer is the commander of the 297th MP Company. Even though this is his first deployment with the Alaska Army National Guard, he knows the lives in his hands are precious to their families back home, and he says he's prepared to return them safely home.

“I have both husbands and wives in my unit, and it’s the greatest responsibility I’ve been given yet,” Fulmer said. “I have full intent to bring them home safe.”

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