BOSTON, Mass. /Massachusetts Newswire/ — on Friday, July 23, 2010, during the third full day of a Department of Defense trip designed to thank Massachusetts soldiers for their service to the Commonwealth and the nation, Governor Deval Patrick met with multiple units from the Army Reserves and the Massachusetts National Guard.
Joined by Governor Jim Douglas (R-VT), Governor Tim Pawlenty (R-MN), Governor Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Governor Jay Nixon (D-MO), Governor Patrick began the day by flying in UH-60s (Blackhawks) piloted by airmen from Massachusetts Army National Guard’s 3/126 Aviation Brigade (based in Cape Cod) to Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait. They then flew a C-40 aircraft to Kabul International Airport in Afghanistan, before flying in UH-60s to Camp Phoenix in Afghanistan.

At Camp Phoenix, the governors met with constituent troops, including members of the 1/101 Field artillery Brigade from Brockton, Danvers, Fall River and Quincy. The governors then flew UH-60s to ISAF Headquarters where they met with Ambassador Karl Eikenberry and Commanding General David Petraeus. From there, the governors flew C-130s to Bagram Air Base where they toured Bagram Hospital and met with injured soldiers.

Governor Patrick concluded the day over dinner with constituent troops at Bagram Air Base, including members of the Army Reserves’ 342nd MP detachment from Ft. Devens and the Massachusetts Army National Guard’s 379th Engineering Co. from Pittsfield and Buzzards Bay. In February, Governor Patrick attended the deployment ceremonies for members of the 379th Engineering Co. serving in Afghanistan at Taconic High School in Pittsfield and Massasoit Community College in Brockton.

Today’s visits in Afghanistan come after Governor Patrick spent two days in Iraq and Kuwait, meeting with members of the 164th Transportation Battalion of the Massachusetts Army National Guard as well as critically injured service members during a tour of the Combat Support Hospital and Contingency Aeromedical Staging Facility (CASF). The Governor also visited with soldiers at Camp Victory and participated in a call with LTG Kenneth Hunzeker, Deputy Commander US Forces-Iraq and the NATO Training Mission-Iraq.

There are currently over 1,100 Massachusetts National Guard troops deployed in the region. The Governor serves as Commander in Chief of the Massachusetts National Guard, and felt it was important to check on our servicemen and women in harm’s way and to be briefed on the progress of their mission.

The Patrick-Murray Administration has made Massachusetts a national leader in veterans’ services. The Commonwealth is the only state in the nation to offer local financial assistance – for food, clothing, shelter, housing and medical care – to its veterans and dependants in need. Massachusetts also provides workforce training assistance and one of the highest “Welcome Home” bonuses in the nation to veterans who return from overseas deployments and active duty military service. In addition, the state issues additional bonuses for multiple deployments – an improvement the Governor signed into law on Veterans’ Day 2009.

As has been Department of Defense practice on previous trips involving Massachusetts and other governors, for security purposes the Department will not disclose information relative to additional stops on the trip in advance.