Soldier Send Off

Soldier Send Off
By: CJ Cassidy

FARMINGTON, Mo. -- A special weekend ceremony honors more than 100 local soldiers as they prepare to head off to Iraq.  Soldiers with the 1138th Engineer Company out of Farmington, Missouri prepare to answer the call to duty again. It's the second tour of duty for almost half of the 110 soldiers, and the third tour of duty for a few others.

Feelings of pride, fear and sadness seemed to hang in the air as soldiers, their family and well-wishers crowded into the Farmington Civic Center, Sunday afternoon.

The true sense of community became clear when one soldier had difficulties singing the national anthem.  That's when the crowd jumped in, singing the anthem along with him.

"It's a very emotional time for all, highlighted by one individual's difficulty in leading, whereupon we were all joining in singing the national anthem, as it should be," Major General King Sidwell said moments later, his voice thick with emotion.
That's the kind of support soldiers say they they're looking for, as they head off to the war zone.
"I know it's going to be rough for me, but I'm concerned about my family and how they're going to take it," 19-year-old Private garrett Eggers, the youngest of Company says.
"Everybody knows what's going on over there, so we want to prepare our soldiers for the worst case scenarios," Commander Darren Gove says.
He explains National Guard duties have changed over the years; from protecting people within the borders of the US, to heading overseas to support combat teams.
He's also worried about his wife who heads off to serve with the Illinois National Guard when he returns home, next year.
"Neither one of us is very happy. I can certainly sympathize with soldier's families," he says.
The soldiers head off to train in Wisconsin next week, and leaves for Iraq in October.
Soldiers' family members say it isn't any easier saying goodbye a second time around.  They say they'll count on family readiness groups to help them get through next year.