Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen are called to attention one last time before dismissal as the Missouri National Guard's Agribusiness Development Team VI members were welcomed home Sept. 12. (Photo by Rachel Knight/Missouri National Guard)
By Rachel Knight
JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. - The Missouri National Guard, Family and friends welcomed home 33 Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen from the Agribusiness Development Team VI Sept. 12, at Ike Skelton Training Site's courtyard.
"Missouri takes great pride in all her sons and daughters serving in our military, who are always vigilant in protecting America. That pride has been especially true for the Agri-business Development Teams of the Missouri National Guard," said Missouri Governor Jeremiah "Jay" Nixon. "It was the Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen from our state who pioneered the efforts to help farmers and villagers in Afghanistan achieve a greater degree of self-reliance in growing crops, raising animals, and having a source of clean water."
This is the sixth and final iteration of Missouri's agribusiness teams. Each team built upon the successes of the previous teams. The focus was always to promote stability within the volatile regions of Afghanistan by developing the nation's primary source of employment, produce, and agriculture. The mission countered the nation's terrorist insurgency by showing the Afghan people a better way of life, by creating jobs that do not require them to take up arms.
ADT VI has faced this challenge using the weapons of agricultural development projects, promoting education, building relationships, promoting governance, and creating jobs.
The unique application of Citizen and Soldier is never more realized than in the conception of the ADT mission. The Citizen-Soldiers and Airmen conducted security and presence patrols, and combated IED's. They worked cattle, planted orchards, and showed farmers how to change oil in their tractors.
During ADT VIs mission, the team was split into three distinct units. Eleven members remain in Nangarhar augmenting the Provincial Reconstruction Team as it continues the progress made by the five previous Missouri agribusiness units.
Thirty members moved to Camp Qargha in the southwest Kabul area in support of NATO Training Mission - Afghanistan to help stand up an Afghan National Military Training Academy. They provided base security and checkpoint operations utilizing their expertise to improve force protection during a time of instability. They successfully trained their replacements laying the foundation for a much safer Afghanistan where their future military leaders will have a secure environment to receive their NATO led training.
Remaining members stood up a Police Advisory Team to train, mentor and teach elements of the 14,000 uniformed police officers in the Kabul Province. The team conducted over 150 Key Leader Engagements in efforts to provide Afghan Law Enforcement Officers the ability to stabilize the capital city of Kabul in support of the Government of Afghanistan.
Missouri service members proved they were adaptable and able to support any mission required. Even during times of high threat they never wavered, always performing at the level of expectations established by previous Missouri units.
The attack on Forward Operating Base Finley-Shields on April 15 proved Missouri Soldiers and Airmen were prepared and trained. There were no fatalities or life threatening injuries to the team members. Numerous members of the team received medals and awards to include 16 Purple Hearts. Two of those Purple Hearts were presented to Master Sgt. Joseph Schicker and Sgt. Sean Cochran during the ceremony.
At the unit's deployment ceremony in March, Governor Nixon and Maj. Gen. Stephen L. Danner, adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard, presented the United States and the Missouri State flags to the oldest and youngest members as traditional. Those flags represent many noble ideas.
"I know for certain that the flags represent how these courageous Missourians sitting before us went into harm's way when their country asked, without hesitation or complaint - just as generations of Missourians have done before them when duty called," said Nixon. "That attack took those flags. In the burning fire afterwards, those flags were consumed. And even though those flags were lost in that fire fight, those ideals represented of those pieces of cloth live on strongly because of your courage."
For more information about the Missouri National Guard, please visit www.moguard.com and our social media sites: www.facebook.com/Missouri.National.Guard; www.twitter.com/Missouri_NG; www.youtube.com/MoNationalGuard; www.myspace.com/missouri_ng; www.flickr.com/photos/missouriguard; www.moguard.com/blog; www.pinterest.com/monationalguard/
Sgt. Dennis Harter receives a big welcome home from his wife, Carla, once he got off the bus at Ike Skelton Training Site Sept. 12 after being deployed to Afghanistan. (Photo by Rachel Knight/Missouri National Guard)
Sgt. Sean Cochran and Master Sgt. Joseph Schicker are presented Purple Hearts during the ADT VI welcome home ceremony for their service and sacrifice during the April 15 attack on Forward Operating Base Finley-Shields in Afghanistan. (Photo by Rachel Knight/Missouri National Guard)