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Home : News
NEWS | Oct. 24, 2020

157th Military Police company returns from nine-month deployment to Guantanamo Bay

By Maj. Holli Nelson West Virginia National Guard Public Affairs

More than 160 members of the 157th Military Police Company, 771st Troop Command Battalion, headquartered in Martinsburg and Moorefield, West Virginia, returned today from a nine-month deployment to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where they provided support for Joint Task Force – Guantanamo in its safe, legal and humane detention mission.

Soldiers were welcomed back by family and friends at various locations throughout the State of West Virginia, including Martinsburg and Charleston upon their return.

“If you step back and think about what these brave men and women of our National Guard sacrifice on behalf of all of us, it's amazing. We owe these brave West Virginians and their families everything we have," Gov. Justice said. "I could never be more proud of how they represent our great state in defense of our nation's freedom and I'm excited beyond belief to welcome them back home.”

“The 157th Military Police Company have faithfully served our county overseas, and bring great pride to the State of West Virginia,” said Senator Capito. “It is always a fantastic day when West Virginians are welcomed home from tours of duty, and I am overjoyed for our service members and their families as they are able to reunite today. Our National Guard troops are on the front lines in our state; they serve as first responders, and are our local heroes. I am so thankful for their continued service, and the role they play both domestically and abroad. To all our returning troops and their families, I send wishes of health and happiness during this difficult time, and please let me know if there is anything I can do to assist you or your family. Welcome home!”

“On behalf of all West Virginians, I’m proud to welcome home our National Guardsmen who have served our nation honorably. When I served as Governor of West Virginia, my greatest honor was serving as Commander in Chief of the best National Guard in the nation. West Virginia’s National Guard has helped keep America safe for generations, and these soldiers carry on that legacy. I’m thankful our troops have returned home safely and we are forever grateful for the sacrifices they, and their loved ones, have made to keep our country safe. Welcome home,” said Senator Manchin.

“Despite the ongoing pandemic and the challenges that it has posed, not only for our service members who were deployed but for their families back home, this unit excelled in all aspects of their mission while at Guantanamo Bay. Once again, West Virginia Soldiers were recognized by outside leaders as one of the strongest organizations represented at their deployed location,” stated Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, Adjutant General of the West Virginia National Guard. “Their dedication to mission and flexibility to respond to an ever-changing situation in such a high-stress location such as Guantanamo is a testament to the type of Soldiers we have in our organization. I could not be more proud of their accomplishments and am happy to have them back in West Virginia.”

While deployed, the Soldiers undertook myriad responsibilities to support the Task Force, including manning access control points, providing escorts for movement of personnel, operating a quick reaction force and roving maverick patrol around the installation, providing vehicle maintenance and medical support at the Joint Warfighter Clinic.

“Overall, the 157th MP Company did an outstanding job with their mission,” stated Capt. Steven Frye, company commander. “The brigade commander and I met prior to our departure and he congratulated our company as being one of the strongest in his brigade. I could not be happier with how well our Soldiers performed and I’m proud of each and every one of them.”

In addition to accomplishing their primary mission, Soldiers with the 157th Military Police Company took part in numerous morale, welfare and recreation activities and physical training events with service members from other U.S. military branches to build stronger bonds and esprit de corps. 

One of the biggest challenges for the unit came about shortly after they arrived in country, when the COVID-19 pandemic began.

As a result of the pandemic, many of the tasks the unit had been assigned increased exponentially due to the various security and health safety measures needed to mitigate exposure to COVID-19 at their deployed location.

“When COVID-19 was recognized as a pandemic and the DoD began mitigation measures, our Soldiers adapted their mission set to continue to provide safe, legal, and humane treatment for detainees,” stated Frye.

This new, additional mission required their adherence to a strict quarantine work cycle and also included verifying service member identification in work areas that might have posed a risk to the overall success of the mission. Within 30 days of their receipt of the new mission, our Soldiers were directly responsible for controlling all access into detention facilities and therefore also responsible, through their use of personal protective equipment and their implementation of COVID-19 mitigation procedures, for the safety and health of everyone inside, Frye explained.

“The 157th Military Police Company adapted seamlessly to the numerous closures, restrictions, and policies that emerged as a result of the DoD and Naval Station Guantanamo Bay’s goals to contain the virus and emerged successfully on the other side of a deployment and pandemic,” stated Frye.

This deployment was the 157th Military Police Company’s first in support of detainee operations at Guantanamo Bay.

Currently, the West Virginia National Guard has more than 150 Soldiers and Airmen deployed around the globe supporting operations in the U.S. Central Command, U.S. European Command, and U.S. Southern Command areas of responsibility.

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