Local Soldiers Are Getting Ready to Be Deployed Overseas

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The War in Iraq has touched the lives of everyone in the country in one way or another. The Army National Guard's 186th Troop is being deployed overseas and could be gone for more than a year.

The troop has 160 men who will first be sent to two months of training and then be flown overseas for at least a year of combat.

160 soldiers in the Army National Guard and their families gathered together Saturday to be honored for their sacrifices. Next week the men will deploy to defend the United States' freedom, and the soldiers understand their importance in the war effort.

Commander of 186th Troop Clay Strickland said, "Without the National Guard support, the Army couldn't do their job. That's why it’s important for the troops to be mobilized in support of Iraqi freedom."

Some local and state officials attended the ceremony to show their support of the soldiers and to express their gratitude for Alabama's contributions to the war.

"It's just representative of how many of our people have stepped up to the plate cause of patriotism to fulfill their military duties, and I am proud of them," said Lt. Gov. Lucy Baxley.

Some sponsors of the event say they have been through this before and understand what these soldiers will be dealing with in the near future.

"Getting on the plane and flying, it's quiet because they're leaving their families and friends behind, their thoughts will be with their families," said Ed Pritchard of the Commander Dothan VFW Post 4073.

Soldiers at the event added that each of them volunteered for their positions and are honored to defend the United States of America.

The Veterans of Foreign Wars sponsored this particular event to show their appreciation for each the soldiers.

Troop leaders will deploy Monday to set up in Wisconsin and prepare for the rest of the troops who will depart on Wednesday.