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168th Military Police Battalion to Deploy and Honor Local Hero

Wednesday, November 20, 2019 | 02:05pm

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - The Tennessee National Guard announced today that the Dyersburg based 168th Military Police Battalion will deploy to Cuba this winter. More than 100 Soldiers assigned to the unit have been training for over one year in preparation for their year-long deployment to Naval Station Guantanamo Bay.

"The 168th is one of the most distinguished and experienced Military Police units in Tennessee and we look forward to serving our country and state.” said Lt. Col. Mark Tyndall, the commander for the 168th. “Our team is ready, well trained, and fully prepared for what lies ahead.”

The Tennesseans will replace the U.S. Army Reserves’ 382nd Military Police Battalion from Westover, Massachusetts, who are currently deployed to Naval Station Guantanamo Bay as part of a regular rotation of forces. The 168th will be supporting police and security operations. 

Prior to deployment, the 168th is naming the Task Force it will lead after 1st Lt. James Gardner, a Dyersburg native and a Medal of Honor recipient who was killed in action while deployed to Vietnam in 1966.

“It is an honor to have the opportunity to celebrate and remember this local hero from Tennessee,” said Tyndall. “1st Lt. Gardner represents everything we value. He risked and gave his life coming to the aid of his fellow soldiers. There is no higher sacrifice than that.”

On February 7, 1966, 1st Lt. Gardner led a platoon to the relief of American soldiers that were pinned down for several hours by enemy forces in the village of My Canh, Vietnam. Once Gardner arrived, his platoon came under heavy enemy fire. Disregarding his own safety, Gardner charged through machine-gun fire across an open field. He then attacked and destroyed three enemy bunkers.

Following the seizure of the third bunker, Gardner reorganized his platoon to continue the attack. He then destroyed a forth bunker with grenades and rifle fire as he headed for his fifth enemy position. Nearing the bunker, he leaped from a ditch and advanced while firing his rifle and armed with grenades. He was then gravely wounded just before reaching the bunker, but with a last valiant effort, he moved forward and destroyed it with a grenade. He died on the rim of the bunker, inspiring his men to resume the attack and defeat the enemy. He was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions.

On December 1 at 2 p.m. CST, family, friends, and media are invited to attend the naming and departure ceremony for the 168th at the Dyersburg National Guard Armory located on 502 James H. Rice Road. Lt. Col. Tyndall will be honoring 1st Lt. James Gardner and his family before the unit departs to Fort Bliss, Texas, for additional mobilization training before arriving in Cuba.