-Soldiers from one of the nation's oldest National Guard units spent the afternoon at Faneuil Hall last Saturday during a community relations and recruiting event in Boston. Local residents, visitors and tourists were able to get a hands-on view of what these troops will carry with them during their deployment to Afghanistan next year.
"The 182nd Infantry is pretty much showcasing some of our weapons systems and equipment," said 1st Lt. Kyle Moore, of Boston who serves as the commander of B Company, 182nd Inf. Bn. "There's a recruiting effort involved, but mostly we wanted to show the people of Massachusetts what the 182nd Infantry does."
People who happened to come by and visit the display got a chance to see and experience a lot of the equipment used by infantrymen in the Massachusetts National Guard. Visitors were allowed to climb into the turrets of two Humvees, wear a full combat load, look through a combat medic's bag and even hold a few of the weapons used by the troops.
"It's a very professional and complete display," said Lt. Col. Thomas Stewart, of Sturbridge who serves as the commander of the 182nd Inf. Bn. "Soldier involvement from the 182nd is very high, and it's great to see an equivalent interest from people everywhere, of all ages, in our mission."
Recently, members of the Massachusetts Army National Guard were activated to support in disaster relief operations during Operation Rising Water. While some of the equipment on display Saturday wasn't exactly designed for those kinds of operations, the public got a chance to see and meet the men behind the relief efforts.
Soldiers who came out to meet the public and inform them of the Guard's mission shared stories and experiences, as well as, just to inform them of their mission. "That’s what we do as the National Guard. We're here to support the people," said Moore. "We've had a lot of real life emergencies just from within the state. It's great to see the Soldiers interacting with the community, without the stress of an emergency."
"Today has been great. I've met a lot of great people. A lot of people are interested in the Guard," said Spc. Lawrence Mittica, a Wakefield native who serves a combat medic with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 182nd Inf. Bn. "I feel like a lot of people have been educated now and know what kind of options are out there in the Guard.”
This upcoming deployment will be the 182nd Infantry's first deployment to a combat zone. Previously the unit deployed to Kosovo as part of NATO mission there in 2007.