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Businesses, nonprofits adopt Fort Drum platoons prior to deployment

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FORT DRUM — As soldiers from the post’s 1st and 2nd Brigade Combat teams ready themselves for deployment early next year, they will be supported by a series of sponsors from throughout the community.

The Adopt a 10th Mountain Platoon Program, sponsored by the Northern New York-Fort Drum Chapter of the Association of the United States Army, pairs businesses, nonprofits and other community groups with units being deployed.

Michael T. Plummer, the chapter’s president and the former 10th Division chief of staff, said the program was a way to lift soldier morale and encourage community support for soldiers.

“It’s a win-win situation,” the retired colonel said.

Mr. Plummer created the program in 1992 following the division’s response to Hurricane Andrew, and since then platoons for every division deployment have been placed with civilian sponsor groups. The program has been spread by the national organization for units across the military.

For the upcoming brigade deployment, Mr. Plummer said, 90 sponsor organizations have been drawn in from a list of more than 200. He said many of the participants are recruited by word of mouth and frequently continue their support through multiple deployment cycles.

“A lot of them tend to support the same unit, even if the faces are different,” Mr. Plummer said.

He said meetings between soldiers and their community sponsors will occur for about the next month.

One sponsor for the program, Edward G. Olley, a principal architect with GYMO Architecture, Engineering and Land Surveying, met soldiers for his company’s assigned unit, the 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, on Thursday evening.

“We’re always anxious to participate when we have an opportunity to be a part of this,” Mr. Olley said.

He said the company had sponsored the program for several deployment cycles.

“They’re the ones who are doing the work so we can stay here and do what we do,” he said. “It’s a unique opportunity to thank these guys.”

He said his company would try to schedule a pizza party for the unit before it left for block leave within the next week and would organize the delivery of Christmas gifts for each of the soldiers.

For more information about the program and to learn how to become involved, email Mr. Plummer at plummike@aol.com.

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