Soldier Deployment Ceremony

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A deployment ceremony was held Wednesday morning for the Alabama Army National Guard's 186th Engineer Company. They are leaving their professions locally to fight the War on Terrorism.

Develus Butler is known in the community as Officer Butler of the Dothan police department. However, as Sergeant Butler, he's now training to help support Operation Iraqi Freedom.

“It's been a lot of prayer, spending time with my family; it's just a lot of hard work and dedication of trying to be with my family when I can," said Sgt. Butler.

Butler is part of the unit of 160 men who will be serving in Kuwait and Iraq over the next year performing engineering duties.

While there, the unit will use heavy equipment for road rebuilding, and construction.

“It's one of those things where you have a job that you have to do and sometime in the face of fear you've got to do it," said Sgt. Butler.

Spc. Timothy McNeese said, “It is war and we're gonna be over there and obviously when we train we train with blanks there's gonna be live rounds over there so that will definitely get your attention.”

“I've prepared for's been a long time coming and I knew it was coming so I'm prepared for it,” said Sg. Kevin Pace.

After the ceremony, family members and friends gathered around the soldiers with kisses, hugs, tears and praying for their safe return.

Ellen Pace, a wife of deployed soldier said, “Through prayer, keep looking to the hills and know by faith that he'll be back.”

“I don't think I'm as scared as we were when it first started but it's a scary situation, not knowing exactly where he's going to be everyday,” said Allison McNeese.

The soldiers will train for two to three and a half months at Fort McCoy in Wisconsin before deploying overseas.

This trip will make the second for many of these soldiers, who were deployed shortly after 911.

Two other Wiregrass National Guard units will soon be deployed to Iraq and Kuwait. Members of Alpha Company, first of the 31st armor division of Geneva will depart from Andalusia July 27 and members of 1st battalion, 117th field artillery deploys for assignment in Iraq on the 29th of this month.