A New Mexico Army National Guard unit based in Rio Rancho is deploying to Poland for nine months.
A yellow-ribbon ceremony honored the soldiers of the 1209th Medical Support Company on Sept. 14 at the Cleveland High School Concert Hall.
Company commander Capt. Stephanie Roybal said 83 soldiers will deploy and 15 will stay behind. In Poland, the soldiers will provide medical support to service members participating in Operation Atlantic Resolve, which is meant to show the United States’ commitment to stability in the region after Russia’s interference with Ukraine.
Rio Rancho Deputy Mayor Bob Tyler, a U.S. Navy veteran, served as a guest speaker.
“I sat in your shoes many a time,” he told the soldiers. “These are the days you’ll always remember, because the folks here in this room are the ones that care about you the most.”
He called the soldiers “America’s finest and bravest.”
“Our country, state and city owe you a huge thank-you for your commitment to our freedom and way of life,” Tyler continued.
He promised to support the soldiers and their families however he could during and after the deployment.
Major Gen. Kenneth Nava, New Mexico National Guard adjutant general, said it’s a national security objective to strengthen alliances in eastern Europe.
“The good will they’re going to bring is going to build those partnerships,” he said, urging the soldiers to do their jobs and be themselves to succeed in that mission.
Eighty years ago, Nazi Germany invaded Poland. It’s a historic time and a special place to make a difference, Nava said.
He also promised to do anything he could for families left behind during the deployment.
In her speech, Roybal told unit members to remember they were going to serve other service members so those people could keep serving.
“We love this uniform, we love this unit and we love the Guard,” she said.
Roybal said she asked a lot of the 1209th soldiers during preparation for the deployment.
“And I can say each and every one of you gave,” she said adding that she was confident the unit was ready. “I’m proud of you, but this is just the beginning.”
Roybal also thanked the soldiers’ families, saying she couldn’t serve without support from hers.
After the speeches, mistress of ceremonies Sgt. Shawna Laity talked about the symbolism of yellow ribbons, and soldiers and their families placed yellow ribbons on a small artificial tree on the stage.
“These ribbons will remain until the safe return of the soldiers of the 1209th,” Laity said.