Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Soldiers Head to Kuwait Ready for Showdown; 3rd Infantry Division Continues to Deploy

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Soldiers Head to Kuwait Ready for Showdown; 3rd Infantry Division Continues to Deploy

Article excerpt

Byline: Rachel Davis, Times-Union staff writer

SAVANNAH, Ga. -- The 350 soldiers sat on backpacks and leaned against walls in the departure area as final preparations were made for the aircraft and its passengers. They stood in line for donated care packages and reading material for the plane ride, weighed their equipment and devoured what was their last hot meal in the States for a while.

Army soldiers from Fort Stewart's 3rd Infantry Division, 3rd Battalion waited yesterday at Hunter Army Air Field to board a United Airlines flight bound for Kuwait and a potential attack on Iraq.

This Army air field, which was once an Air Force base for bombers, has deployed about 4,000 soldiers since the division received deployment orders this month. About the same number of soldiers with the division based at Fort Benning also have deployed for Kuwait.

"The pace has quickened," said Army spokesman Steve Hart.

Over the next five to six days nearly 5,000 soldiers are expected to deploy from here and by next month the entire division, 20,000 strong, should be in the Kuwaiti desert, Hart said. The division's 2nd Battalion with about 4,500 troops has been on a training rotation in Kuwait since October.

Soldiers from Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Air Field deploy from here, as well as troops from Florida, Alabama, Texas and Illinois.

Sgt. 1st Class Melvin Green of Miami said he is looking forward to the deployment. He was with the 1st Armor Division during the Gulf War and is now one of the more experienced soldiers in the division, offering guidance and leadership to the first-time deployers.

"I just tell them trust their leadership, trust their commanding chief, and you will make the right decisions for your country," Green said.

The commander of the 3rd Battalion, Lt. Col. Rock Marcone, said his unit is at peak readiness after training at the National Training Center in California, a facility that provides desert-like conditions for simulated military missions. …

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