WEST NEWTON, Mass. - A roar of applause erupted from the family and friends of the “Barking Dogs” of the 101st Finance Detachment as they entered the National Guard armory here, March 22nd, beginning a pre-deployment send-off ceremony.
The Soldiers of the 101st Finance Detachment, 151st Regional Support Group, Massachusetts National Guard, were activated for federal service in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. While the unit won’t actually board the buses until March 30, the ceremony gave the Soldiers one last opportunity to socialize with families and friends before departing on their deployment.
“This signifies us going out the door as opposed to just waiting for the day and just getting on the plane,” said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Porazinski, a Salem, Mass., native who serves as the detachment sergeant for the 101st Finance Detachment. “It’s a nice gesture for everyone to be here and recognize us before we leave.”
While deployed, the 101st will be in charge of providing financial support to the Soldiers based at the Camp Victory Complex in Baghdad, Iraq; a task they’ve been training for since January of last year.
“We’ll be doing disbursements of funds, contracting, and working out pay problems,” Porazinski said. “We’ve been in contact with the unit we’re replacing and it doesn’t sound that bad.”
The ceremony gave others a chance to see the unit together prior to their departure, as well as provide an opportunity to recognize a few Soldiers with awards and promotions.
“The ceremony was good, well spoken, to the point and it wrapped up in just under an hour,” said Cpl. Theodore Giannino, a Somerville, Mass., native and stay-at-home dad who serves as a cashier with the 101st. Giannino was kept company afterward by his parents, siblings, girlfriend and son.
During the ceremony, Brig. Gen. Thomas J. Sellars, land component commander for the Massachusetts National Guard; Col. Nancy A. Souza, commander of the 151st Regional Support Group; and other representatives of the local and state governments, gave encouraging and supportive remarks to the Soldiers and their families as a testament to their abilities and to wish them a quick and safe return.
“It’s a good day, good for the families too,” said Porazinski. “It’s an emotional day, but I’m happy we did it.”
Soldiers of the 101st have previously deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kosovo; they are ramping up for their current deployment with three months of mobilization training at Fort McCoy, Wis., and are scheduled to return home in one year.