Event to honor
25th Infantry soldiers

The more than 5,500 soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division who deployed to Afghanistan last year will be honored June 10 at Schofield Barracks.

The mass formation will be one of the last presided over by Maj. Gen. Eric Olson, who relinquishes command of the division to Brig. Gen. Benjamin Mixon on June 29.

Mixon has been director of operations of the U.S. Southern Command in Florida since July 2003. Olson has led the Tropic Lightning Division since June 2002. A Schofield Barracks spokeswoman said yesterday that the Army has not announced Olson's next assignment. Assignment as head of the 25th Division would mean a second star for Mixon.

Tropic Lightning soldiers of Headquarters and Headquarters Battery are the last Schofield Barracks soldiers still in Afghanistan.

They are assigned to Combined Task Force Thunder and are working with their relief -- members of 1st Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division. They will relinquish control of eastern Afghanistan during a transfer of authority ceremony scheduled for Wednesday.

In 2003 the Headquarters unit of the 25th Division's artillery section initially was not supposed to leave Schofield Barracks even though the entire division received deployment orders to either Iraq or Afghanistan.

But when the Army decided to place another brigade in Afghanistan, the 25th Division Artillery was tabbed as the Headquarters. More than 100 people from the Headquarters battery deployed to Afghanistan last June, and since then it has run one of the largest and most diverse commands in Afghanistan. It oversaw Regional Command East, which covers 16 provinces in eastern Afghanistan along the country's border with Pakistan.

Sgt. Roger Amposta, a fire direction specialist for the task force, spent the deployment working in the brigade Headquarters at Forward Operating Base Salerno. In addition to tracking the brigade's artillery assets, he has also helped to track air support.

Amposta, 26, from Cavite in the Philippines, said in an Army statement that the year-long deployment was a good learning experience, particularly when it came to doing things he had not done before and working with other units and services.

"Even though sometimes you might get into an argument, but when it comes to the job, people always come together," he said.

"I was in Korea for 2 1/2 years, and I was ready to deploy and I said, 'Yeah, I'll go to Hawaii. It doesn't matter to me that they're deploying,'" he said.

Sgt. Allison Urbatsch, a human resource specialist, said one of the highlights of the deployments was going out on five combat patrols with the infantry. During these patrols she would guard and search Afghan females since the local culture prohibits male soldiers from doing so.

The unit will be deactivated June 15 along with the 25th Field Artillery Detachment and Battery F, 7th Field Artillery Regiment.

Capt. Eric Johnson, commander of Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, said, "This unit was notified late of its deployment after most of the division had either been deployed or was in the midst of deploying, and to bring it back after doing what we've done here is a great honor," he said.

25th Infantry Division

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