TROY, N.Y. (12/05/2020) (readMedia)-- Since completing their overseas mission on November 18, 550 New York Army National Guard Soldiers who deployed to the Middle East in March have returned to New York after outprocessing at Fort Hood, Texas.
The last large group of returning Soldiers --175-- arrived back in New York on Friday, December 4, at airports across the state after spending two weeks in quarantine at Fort Hood to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
The Soldiers returned home in small groups to the airport nearest their home. Soldiers returned home in several movements during November.
The troops are members of the 42nd Infantry Division Headquarters who served in the Middle East in support of the Army's Operation Spartan Shield.
The division headquarters, based in Troy, New York, provided the command structure for the 10,000 men and women of Task Force Spartan; the U.S. Army forces serving in the region under the control of United States Central Command.
A small number of Soldiers involved in closing out the division's presence in Kuwait will return home later this month. All troops will be back home by Christmas.
The Soldiers took COVID-19 tests before leaving Fort Hood. They then quarantined at home for three days and obtained COVID-19 tests to comply with New York's pandemic travel regulations.
The 42nd Division formally turned over responsibility for task force command to the 36th Infantry Division of the Texas Army National Guard on November 18.
Soldiers from the 42nd Infantry Division began arriving back at Fort Hood on November 1. The first group of returning troops arrived back in New York for home on November 18.
Soldiers continued to arrive back at Fort Hood, quarantining for 14 days and then outprocessing to return to home to New York throughout November. The last group of Soldiers arrived home December 4-5.
The bulk of the Soldiers live in New York's Capitol Region, while a large number call New York City home. But the Soldiers live in communities across the state.
Maj. Gen. Steven Ferrari, the division commander, credited the support of family and friends back home for playing an important role in the success of his Soldiers.
Task Force Spartan supported operations in Kuwait, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia. 42nd Infantry Division personnel also supported combat operations in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.
An armored brigade combat team, an engineer brigade, a field artillery brigade, an explosive ordnance disposal battalion and two Army aviation task forces reported to Ferrari.
"Looking back at the division's deployment, it's been a challenging and rewarding experience to be here during this historic period supporting the U.S. Central Command area of responsibly during a global pandemic," Ferrari said.
Along with overseeing combat operations, the division headquarters served as the Central Command's primary command effort for preventing COVID-19 from degrading Soldier readiness.
The division also oversaw numerous training exercises with allied and host nation militaries as part of the effort to deter regional aggression and strengthen relationships.
Training exercises between countries varied from testing command-post capabilities to side-by-side maneuvers. During one of these exercises, the 42nd Infantry Division deployed a mobile command post from Kuwait to Jordan within a few hours.
"What made this mission great were simply the people; the people we met and the relationships built will never be forgotten," Ferrari said.