Heartland soldiers deploy to Guantanamo Bay

(Source: Mike Mohundro/KFVS)
(Source: Mike Mohundro/KFVS)

KENNETT, MO (KFVS) - The 1137th Military Police Company had a deployment ceremony for over 100 Missouri Army National Guard soldiers in Kennett on Sunday, July 9.

Hundreds of family and friends packed the Kennett High School Gymnasium to send off and say their goodbyes for what could be a nine-month mission or more.

The unit is being deployed to Guantanamo Bay Naval Base to support the Joint Task Force Guantanamo's mission of conducting safe, human, legal and transparent care and custody of detainees, including those convicted by military commission.

The team is being led by Captain Jonathan Holem and 1st Sgt. Garrett Cox.

The company is based out of Kennett with detachments in Jackson and Doniphan.

"This is a truly historic mission for the Missouri National Guard," U.S. Army Captain Jonathan Holem said. "It's the first rotation we've actually done there. So it's very important for our soldiers, for our state. It means we are trusted with the most prestigious missions the Army hands us and we can handle it. Our soldiers are trained and ready."

Family members said it's hard to see them go but they are very proud of them.

"I'm super proud. This is our first deployment so it's kind of nerve-racking knowing that this little guy [her son] is solely depending on me but we're strong and this is just another adventure," Joann Holem said.

"Any deployment is important whether they're going to Fort Leanordwood, or they're going to Hawaii, it doesn't matter where they're going. It's important," Kendra Cox said. "Emotionally, it's happiness. I mean I'm happy but it's sad to see any loved one go but we all know this is a good unit and they're going to come home safe."

Holem said he thanks everyone for the overwhelming support shown to their unit.

"I just want to say thanks to them for their support while we're gone. Being able to call back to your family members really means a lot. Making sure that everything is okay at the house and for them to have the support that the Missouri National Guard offers is very important and we're very grateful for that," Jonathan Holem added.

The 1137th previously deployed to support overseas contingency operations in Kosovo in 2003 and Qatar in 2011.

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