Illinois unit's deployment ceremony celebrates soldiers
By TAMARA BROWNING | The State Journal-Register, Springfield, Ill. | Published: August 24, 2019
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (Tribune News Service) — Chief Warrant Officer 4 Lywanda Wynder of Chatham soon will deploy with the Army Reserve to Afghanistan with the knowledge that she'll miss her daughter's senior year at Glenwood High School.
She is part of the 206th Regional Support Group in Springfield that will deploy with a final destination to Afghanistan for about nine months.
"We have our 17-year-old (Ryan Wynder) that's a senior in high school. I will miss her whole senior year, hoping that I can get back for her graduation, but if not, she understands because this is what we've been doing her whole life," said Lywanda, who enlisted in the military "straight out of" Leland High School in Leland, Mississippi, in 1989, and celebrated 30 years in the military on Aug. 21.
Wearing red shirts that read "Remember Everyone Deployed," Lywanda's husband, Rudell Wynder, and her mother, Emma Kirk of Greenville, Mississippi, were among dozens of people present Friday morning at the 206th Regional Support Group's Deployment Ceremony at Southwind Park in Springfield.
Soldiers with the 206th Regional Support Group will conduct a support mission while in Afghanistan.
U.S. Rep. Rodney Davis, R-Taylorville, and Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder were among speakers who thanked the soldiers for their service.
"Your selfless service, together as one, illustrates to all of us throughout the world how we should live our lives daily, improving our world so we all live together in freedom, peace and harmony," Langfelder said.
Lywanda Wynder has been deployed a few times, her first deployment being with Desert Shield/Desert Storm in the early 1990s. Rudell Wynder, who retired as an Army major after serving 22 years and then followed his wife for 18 years, said Friday's deployment ceremony is important because it gives families a chance to say goodbye.
"It used to be, when we were in, they didn't have no ceremony. They would drop us off at the barracks and would say, 'We'll see you later,' " said Rudell, who added that their family has been in Chatham a little more than year, having come from Hawaii. The Wynders also have a son, Keyshawn Lee, 23, who recently returned to the states after 10 months in Kuwait and is based with the Army in Colorado.
"This (ceremony) kind of helps with the sending-over process," Rudell said. "They're celebrated going out, and not only do I think that it helps us, it helps them, too, with the state of mind because when you're in deployment, the state of mind is so important in how you start off.
"This unit here does a very good job of helping to prepare the family for deployment."
Col. Shad Smith, commander of the 206th Regional Support Group in Springfield, told the audience gathered for the deployment ceremony that the 206th's goal is to continue to "protect our nation from those who wish to do us harm."
"It goes without saying I'm very honored to be the commander of the 206th as we prepare to deploy to Afghanistan. ... I also thank, who I think are the truly unsung heroes ... and those are the family members and the loved ones who are here this morning," Smith said.
"I realize this is a hard day for you, and there's a lot of mixed emotions, and a very wide range of mixed emotions right now, but ... the biggest emotion should be that of pride for your soldier."
Rudell Wynder said that his mother-in-law, Emma Kirk, will help him during his daughter's senior year in high school. He said that they hate to see his wife go, but they understand that it's necessary.
Kirk said Friday morning's deployment ceremony was "bittersweet."
"I know I'm going to miss her," Kirk said of her daughter.
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