Baylor To Host Texas Army National Guard Deployment; 56th Brigade Send-Off Includes 'Operation Phone Card'Dec. 23, 2004
Baylor University will host the largest overseas deployment of Texas Army National Guard troops since World War II, as more than 3,000 members of the 56th Brigade Combat Team, 36th Infantry Division, assemble on New Years Day at Floyd Casey Stadium in preparation for their service in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The ceremony, which will be attended by approximately 18,000 family members and national, state and U.S. Army dignitaries, will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 1, at the stadium. The public is invited to attend.
However, in case of severe weather, the event will be moved to the Ferrell Center on the Baylor campus. Due to space limitations at the Ferrell Center, attendance will be limited to family members only.
OPERATION PHONE CARD
Baylor also is leading "Operation Phone Card," a Central Texas-wide effort to raise funds to provide a long-distance phone card for each member of the 56th Brigade so they will be able to call their families during their deployment to Iraq.
Online contributions can be made securely through the "Operation Phone Card" web site. Cash contributions can be dropped off through Dec. 23 at the Baylor athletic ticket office at Floyd Casey Stadium and the Baylor cashier's office on the first floor of Robinson Tower.
Contributions also can be made through Dec. 27 at American Bank branches in Waco. Additional donation locations are available on the "Operation Phone Card" web site.
Checks should be made out to "Operation Phone Card" and can be mailed to: Operation Phone Card, Floyd Casey Stadium, 150 Bear Run, Waco, TX 76711.
All contributions must be received no later than Dec. 27 to be included in the "Operation Phone Card" program. Contributions to purchase these phone cards are not tax-deductible and are not considered gifts to Baylor.
Family members needing information about hotels, restaurants and other attractions in Waco and surrounding cities, can contact the Waco Convention and Visitors Bureau at (800) 321-9226.
For specific deployment information, family members are encouraged to go to the 56th Brigade web site.
Media inquiries should be directed to the Texas National Guard public affairs office at (512) 782-6856.
HISTORY OF THE 56TH BRIGADE
The 56th was organized as the 1st Texas Cavalry Brigade in 1919. Re-designated the 56th Brigade of the 23rd Cavalry Division in 1921, the 56th was the only brigade of horse cavalry activated for World War II, serving stateside with the southern defense command. In 1944, the brigade traded in its horses and was reorganized as the 56th Cavalry Reconnaissance Troop - Mechanized. Its regiments, the 112th and 124th Cavalry, fought in the Pacific and Asia until 1945.
The 56th was re-designated as Combat Command "A" of the 49th Armored Division in 1946 and served on stateside active duty during the Berlin Crisis in 1961. During the Cold War the unit had various designations, including 2nd Brigade 49th Armored Division, 49th Armored Group, the 49th Armored Brigade, and, again, the 2nd Brigade of the 49th Armored Division. With the re-flagging of the 49th Armored to the 36th Infantry Division, it regained its previous name as the 56th Brigade.