NY National Guard bids goodbye to 650 at three farewell events on Saturday, January 11

Farewell events took place at Siena College in Loudonville, Staten Island College on Staten Island, and at National Guard flight facility in Rochester

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NY National Guard Soldiers bid heir families goodbye as they board a bus following a deployment ceremony at the College of Staten Island on Saturday, January 11, 2019.

LATHAM, NY (01/12/2020) (readMedia)-- Six hundred and fifty New York Army National Guard Soldiers said goodbye to their families on Saturday, January 11 at three farewell ceremonies held in Rochester, the Albany suburb of Loudonville and on Staten Island.

Around 2,500 family members turned out to support their Soldiers at the farewell ceremonies which were held at the College of Staten Island, Siena College in Loudonville and the New York National Guard's Army Aviation Support Facility in Rochester.

The Soldiers, who are assigned to the headquarters of the 42nd Infantry Division, which is based in Troy, will deploy to the United States Central Command area of operations later this year.

The division's members have been training for more than a year to prepare for the deployment.

The division, commanded by Major General Steven Ferrari will assume command over Task Force Spartan .

Task Force Spartan is a multi-component organization, made up of active Army and National Guard units, rounded out by U.S. Army Reserve support units. The task force maintains U.S. military posture in Southwest Asia sufficient to strengthen defense relationships and build partner capacity.

Units in the task force support Operation Spartan Shield with capabilities such as aviation, logistics, force protection and information management.

The division headquarters and the task force will facilitate theater security cooperation activities such as key leader engagements, joint exercises, conferences, and humanitarian assistance/disaster response planning.

Division Soldiers will initially conduct training at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania and then move to Fort Hood for additional pre-deployment training.

The 42nd Infantry Division's last mobilization as a unit was in 2004-2005 , when the division headquarters took command of 23,000 Soldiers operating north of Baghdad during Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Organized during World War I with National Guard units from many states, the division is known as the Rainbow Division.

Brigadier General Michel Natali, the New York National Guard's assistant adjutant general for Army, who served in the division during that deployment, told the 200 Soldiers at the Siena College event that " you will write the next chapter of Rainbow Division history."

At the event on Staten Island Major General Ray Shields, the Adjutant General of New York told the 230 Soldiers in his audience that "your hard work preparing for this day is evident in the enthusiasm and professionalism."

U.S. Representative Max Rose, a New York National Guard combat veteran attended the Staten Island Event, while U.S. Representative Paul Tonko was at the Siena College farewell ceremony.

Lt. Governor Kathleen Hochul represented the governor at the event in Rochester.

Following the formal ceremonies at each location Soldiers had more time with families before boarding buses heading for Fort Indiantown Gap, Pennsylvania.

The Soldiers will be gone for a year, spending about 10 months in the Central Command are which includes the Middle East.