Warrior medics with the Joint Readiness Training Center and the 115th Field Hospital, 32nd Hospital Center, deployed from Fort Polk, Louisiana, in support of Task Force Evacuare, operating in U.S. Central Command's area of responsibility.
Army Brig. Gen. Patrick D. Frank, the commanding officer of JRTC and Fort Polk, and Army Col. Lee Burnett, the commander of the 32nd HC, were guest speakers at a May 6 deployment ceremony.
Burnett spoke first, thanking the soldiers for heeding their country's call.
"Today you head overseas to support our fellow soldiers and civilians as they endeavor to provide peace and security," he said, noting that the soldiers completed months of deployment preparation in just a matter of weeks.
"I'd like to recognize that every soldier here, to a person, whether the most junior enlisted or the most senior officer, willingly and proudly accepted this assignment," he said.
Burnett specifically highlighted the leadership shown by Army Lt. Col. Jason Marquart and Army Sgt. 1st Class Erik Regalado.
"When this mission came down, they both immediately stepped forward and took on this challenge," he said. "Every day, they put their soldiers and mission first. I am thankful we have such professional leaders and rest easy knowing our soldiers are guided by this stellar team."
Burnett also recognized the 1st Medical Brigade, the JRTC and Fort Polk for their unwavering support and laser focus on the task force's success.
Burnett, who is slated to change commands during the summer and will not be present when the soldiers return, took a moment to thank Marquart for his support.
"Since Day One, you've had a clear vision to ensure the entire hospital was trained and ready to take on any mission," he said. "You developed our young leaders and built this team into a hospital that has proven itself time and again."
You inspire me. I know you will do us proud and represent our country well."
Army Brig. Gen. Patrick D. Frank, commanding officer, JRTC and Fort Polk
Burnett said Marquart's proven track record is why Forces Command has recognized the 115th FH as the most-trained and ready hospital in the Army.
"That's why Forscom went to us first for Hurricane Dorian response, first for [Kosovo Force], and now first for Centcom — and not for just one task force, but two," he continued. "That's unheard of. I cannot think of any other unit that has taken on more missions in more locations."
Burnett thanked the soldiers for their dedication and devotion, as well as the family members who were unable to attend.
"Each soldier and family member is making a personal sacrifice to ensure the success of this important mission," Burnett said. "Some have temporarily put off school; others extended their service in the Army. You are a testament to our shared Army values: loyalty, duty, respect, selfless-service, honor, integrity and personal courage. You inspire me. I know you will do us proud and represent our country well."
Frank then addressed the deploying soldiers, saying that when he looked at the formation, he thought he was looking at a brigade combat team.
"That's how tough you look," he said. Opposing forces usually attack targets they think are soft targets, he said. "They would walk away from you," he added.
Frank said the nation, the Army and Centcom needed the soldiers of the 115th FH to go into the theater and help U.S. service members and civilians.
"All of you are medical providers," he said. "You're all volunteers. This is an incredible formation. You couldn't be deploying with a better team. If I was going to be in a field hospital setting, I'd want to be with this one."
"I want to be in your formation," Frank continued. "I don't think there is anything a soldier can tell another soldier that is more a point of pride than, 'I want to be in your formation.' That's how much I respect you and the job you’ve done to get ready for this mission."
Lt. Col. Jason Marquart, the commander of the 115th FH, said the team not only would not only be supporting service members, but also would be doing battle with COVID-19 — a new enemy they've never seen before.
"Fortunately, we have highly trained medical people in our Army that are always ready and willing, so this deployment is a good opportunity to take these people and combine them in a time of need, just like we would do here in the United States," Marquart said. "We will provide excellent care for anyone who needs it."
The 115th FH is unique in that many of the officers are assigned to hospitals throughout the United States to keep up their technical skills. The augmentees for the current deployment come from San Antonio and from Fort Gordon, Georgia.
"When the time comes, these individuals, within 72 hours, left their homes, moved here and were prepared to go," Marquart said. "With the help of the team here at Fort Polk, they were completely mission-ready in a short time. This is truly a rapid deployment."
(Chuck Cannon is assigned to Fort Polk.)