West Michigan soldiers deploy to Africa

Posted at 11:44 AM, Dec 10, 2014
and last updated 2014-12-10 12:05:16-05

WALKER, Mich.– A group of West Michigan soldiers is preparing for a nearly year-long tour in Africa.

The 321st military information support operations out of Walker will be spending a few months in training before heading to Africa.

It’s a process all too familiar for Sergeant Tori Pringer.

No stranger to deployments, Sgt. Pringer’s seven year military career will include this third tour overseas.

“I thank God for making people smart enough to make Skype,” joked Sgt. Pringer. “It’s a good way to communicate with family.”

Captain Ryan Gore is the mission’s commander.

“We are going to be conducting information and influence activities to support our strategic aims,” he explained.

“We want to get the message out that there’s a fully functioning government in Somalia, for example, for the first time in 20 years and that it’s working well.”

About two dozen soldiers boarded a bus in Walker and, with a police escort, arrived at Gerald R Ford International airport.

“It’s a seasoned group. Most of us have deployed in the past and have a lot of experience and these are very highly intelligent soldiers,” Sgt. Gore said.

While most of the soldiers are used to spending the holidays away from family, this mission will give them a few days off for Christmas.

The entire tour should last 10 months.

“We should be home in time to go trick-or-treating so I’ll enjoy that,” Sgt. Core said with a smile.

“I have a three and four-year old who will be a four and five-year old next year.”

While they don’t know what their exact mission will be until they get to Africa, Sgt. Pringer is already anxious about what she hopes to learn.

“I’m a graphic illustrator and their culture is really big in art so I’m looking forward to working with people there and finding out about their culture and supporting them.”

No word yet on if this group will have a role in helping with international Ebola relief efforts in Africa.