Twenty or so soldiers from the Pennsylvania National Guard were honored Feb. 7 at a welcome home ceremony at the Lebanon Readiness Center.
From the 828th Financial Management Support Detachment, 28th Management Support Unit, 728th Combat Support Sustainment Battalion, 213th Regional Support Group, they had been deployed to Qatar for 10 months providing banking and military pay support services.
Brig. Gen. James McCormack, Pennsylvania’s assistant adjutant general, was among those who spoke at the homecoming.
The Guardsmen and women from the commonwealth were in the Middle East to help Operation Freedom’s Sentinel (against the war on global terrorism), Operation Inherent Resolve (to defeat the Islamic State group) and Operation Spartan Shield, providing financial support to U.S., joint and multinational forces.
“These soldiers displayed a remarkable amount of dedication to various missions in a difficult environment,” Cpt. Rajvir Singh, commander of the detachment, said in a release covering the ceremony. “They encountered changes daily, but adapted quickly.”
That difficult environment included the worst global pandemic in a century.
“The greatest thing about the National Guard is the dynamic that we bring to the battlefield with the diversity of our soldiers because of their civilian occupations and their education,” said Staff Sgt. David Stankiewicz. the readiness noncommissioned officer for the 828th.
One notable piece of the detachment’s mission, because of the deployment’s location, was to serve as the permanent duty finance office for active-duty soldiers stationed in Qatar.
“We worked a lot with them and we worked a lot with civilians, more than normal,” Stankiewicz said. “It was a whole new dynamic and very diverse compared to other deployments.”
During their tour of duty, the 828th Financial Management Support Detachment’s Disbursing Section conducted cash collections exceeding $1.2 million and the MilPay Section conducted finance in-processing briefings for over 700 service members.
In addition, the 828th also supported the Morale, Welfare and Recreation program by reaching out to children and working with local animal shelters.
“We had the opportunity to help the shelters by walking the animals, working with children,” Stankiewicz said. “It was fun and exciting and actually made a difference.”
Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, members of the 828th Financial Management Support unit are the most deployed soldiers in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard, with at least two dozen deployments.
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