More than 50 soldiers from the Connecticut National Guard left for their deployment to Kosovo Sunday morning.
Guardsmen and women from 1-169th Aviation Regiment departed from Windsor Locks to the Balkans as part of NATO's Kosovo Force mission. Their mission is to assist an international effort to maintain a safe and secure environment in Kosovo, according to Director of Public Affairs Capt. Dave Pytlik.
The soldiers departed on a nearly year-long deployment and their responsibilities will include: command and control, supervision, staff planning, unit level personnel service and logistical support for all units assigned or attached to the General Support Aviation Battalion.
"Some of these soldiers have been on the frontlines supporting the state's efforts during the COVID-19 pandemic right here at home. To each and every one of them, I want to give a special thanks for helping keep Connecticut's residents safe from a different enemy," said Maj. Gen. Francis Evon, adjutant general and commander of the Connecticut National Guard.
The National Guard said robust training has continued throughout most of the pandemic and units have worked to ensure social distancing protocols are met.
"The men and women of the Connecticut National Guard are providing invaluable resources not only here at home, but also throughout the world as they respond to the call of duty overseas on behalf of the United States," Gov. Ned Lamont said in a statement. "I wish the Guardsmen from the 1-169th Aviation Regiment nothing but the best on this deployment, and I can't wait until we have an opportunity to welcome them home after a job well done."
"Words will never be enough, but the Governor and I have tremendous respect and profound gratitude for your service to our country and our state," Lt. Gov. Susan Bysiewicz said.
The mission was launched in 1999 and is supported by 3,600 service members representing 28 countries, Pytlik said.
The 1-169th Aviation Regiment last deployed to Kosovo in 2015-16, supporting the same mission.