Sgt. Dwayne Dyette has packed his bags and started his farewell tour.
He recently said goodbye to his mother in McDonough, watching television with her and playing with his 6-month-old son, Jayce. He will say adios to his friends early next month at a Super Bowl party, where he will root for the New England Patriots because “you can never bet against” quarterback Tom Brady.
Dyette is among about 4,000 Georgia-based troops who are deploying in the coming weeks to South Korea, amid rising tensions between its nuclear-armed neighbor and the United States.
The 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team of the 3rd Infantry Division started planning its regular rotation to Seoul years before the saber-rattling started between President Donald Trump and North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un.
Dyette isn’t fazed by the hostilities. It helps that he previously deployed to South Korea with a different unit and knows what to expect there.
“It doesn’t change anything because I know our unit has trained and we are ready for anything that may or may not happen while we are there,” said Dyette, 27, who was born in Trinidad and raised in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Dyette then repeated the motto of the 2nd Infantry Division, the unit his brigade will be attached to in South Korea: “We are ready to fight tonight.”
A ceremony for Dyette’s “Raider Brigade” and its departure is scheduled for Tuesday at Fort Stewart. The unit will deploy with a broad variety of personnel and weapons, including infantrymen, combat engineers, military policemen, M1A2 Abrams tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles and artillery.
Dyette and his fellow troops will replace the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team of the 1st Cavalry Division from Fort Hood, Texas. Their nine-month rotation marks the first time a brigade from the 3rd Infantry Division has deployed to Korea since the Korean War.
Meanwhile, the threats between Trump and North Korea have been escalating in recent months as the world’s most isolated nation has test-fired its intercontinental ballistic missiles.
In September, Trump warned he would “totally destroy North Korea” if the United States were threatened. Then on New Year’s Day, Kim boasted he had a “nuclear button” on his desk and that all of the United States was within range of his weapons.
Trump fired back on Twitter the following day, saying he also had a nuclear button on his desk “but it is much bigger & more powerful” than Kim’s.
At the same time, tensions are cooling between North Korea and South Korea. The two nations recently agreed to allow their athletes to march together under the same flag at the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics.
Further, the two Koreas will field a joint women’s hockey team at the Games, now set to begin on Feb. 9 in South Korea.
Dyette had never been overseas before his first deployment to South Korea, so it was “an eye-opener.”
He managed to pick up some of the language while stationed at Camp Casey in Dongducheon, learning how to say hello and tell taxi drivers to go faster. He grew to enjoy the local cuisine, including kimchi and bibimbap. And his roommate was a South Korean soldier who showed him around.
“We went out and met his family and stuff like that,” Dyette said. “It was pretty nice.”
Maj. Pete Bogart of Richmond Hill, the Georgia brigade’s public affairs officer, has also previously deployed with a different unit to South Korea.
“It’s a wonderful country. It has a lot of history,” he said. “We have our mission. But it also gives our soldiers an ability to experience a new culture and see something you wouldn’t get to see if you just grew up in the States and didn’t travel.”
Like Dyette, Bogart said the tensions with North Korea haven’t changed how their brigade is preparing.
“We definitely watch the news, so you are aware of the tensions,” said Bogart, a Tampa native. “But as far as our training and our level of proficiency and readiness go, it hasn’t affected us.”
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