Farmington soldiers prepare for Iraq

Farmington soldiers prepare for Iraq
By: CJ Cassidy

FARMINGTON, Mo. - One hundred ten soldiers from Farmington, Missouri, prepare to head to Iraq in October.
A sendoff is scheduled this Sunday for troops of Missouri National Guards 1138th Engineers..who will first head to a base in Wisconsin for training.
One soldier and his family said they knew getting sent back was a possibility, but they never expected it to happen so soon.
Now, Sgt. Lawrence Johnson and his family get ready to put their lives on hold, while he goes back for his second tour of duty in Iraq.
"I support whatever the decision is made, I'm a soldier. It's my job to fight for freedom," Johnson said.
He turned in his papers at his civilian job Thursday, ready to pick up a new set of papers and assignment at his military job.
"Being away from my family and friends, that's the hard part," he said.
It's just as tough on Johnson's wife and children.
"We were planning on extending the family a little bit more.  Everything's been put off," the Johnson's wife Courtney said.
Instead, the family prepares to say goodbye. Three-year-old Levi wants his dad to keep his Spiderman toy with him when he goes to the war zone.
In return he'll keep his dad's Cardinals Baseball cap.
Levi also helped color in a giant chalky ribbon outside their home, so his dad can see it when he flies off to training.
And a new laptop will help the Johnson's stay in touch, when Lawrence goes to Iraq.
"We really weren't expecting it. He re-enlisted in November for six more years, because he retires. We honestly had no idea that was going to happen again, especially with the National Guard," Courtney said.
For now, the Johnsons look forward to spending their last few days together.
"I don't really blame anyone.  I'm mad he has to go away, and miss another year of his life," Courtney said.
"I love my family to death. They support me. They're behind me," Lawrence said.
Sgt. Johnson and other members of the Farmington Company will do engineering work and support combat teams in Iraq.
The send off on Sunday, July 15th is open to the public. It will be held at the Farmington Civic Center starting at noon.