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Some 150 members of the U.S. Army Reserves 760th Engineering Company boarded a bus Thursday for duty in Afghanistan.
Bristol Herald Courier
Lt. Alex Green of Kingsport gets a hug and kiss from his 4-year-old daughter, Whitney, before leaving Marion on Thursday morning with the 760th Engineering Company.
Thursday, August 22, 2013
MARION — There were tears on both sides of the parking lot Thursday morning, in the group of Army Reserves members preparing to deploy, and their family members and supporters, many furiously waving American flags.
The 150 members of the U.S. Army Reserves 760th Engineering Company got one last chance to hug their loved ones before boarding the bus to Marion, where there was a community-wide sendoff.
The company, comprised of many local soldiers, is heading to Afghanistan for a yearlong deployment. They will be stationed at Fort Shelby, outside of Hattiesburg, Miss., for a few months before heading overseas to help close down bases in Afghanistan and send equipment back to the U.S.
“We’re very proud of him, and praying for him,” said Crystal Green, whose husband, Lt. Alex Green of Kingsport, will deploy for the first time.
Crystal Green stood with her daughter, 4-year-old Whitney, as they watched their soldier stand silently in formation.
Some appeared to be misty-eyed at the thought of leaving home, while others sported big grins as they prepared to fulfill their callings.
“I am so excited,” said Spc. Christopher Hairston, of Martinsville, who is also being deployed for the first time. “I understand it’s a new experience and possibly hazardous, but for me it’s exciting.”
Hairston, who followed his father into the service, has been in the military for three years.
“My dad [said] he never had the opportunity to have the experience I’m about to have, so he’s proud,” Hairston said.
It’s also the first deployment for Pfc. Victoria Scott, of Roanoke.
“I don’t think you can mentally prepare” to head to Afghanistan, she said. “But the great thing is you have your family at home, but you have a new family here.”
Their commander, Lt. Ron Arnold of Kingsport, served tours in Afghanistan in 2005 and 2006.
“A lot has changed in Afghanistan,” he said. “It’s a different tempo. We’re trying to get the Afghanistan camp closed out. It’s a good feeling.”
At the ceremony in Marion, where the streets in front of Town Hall were crowded with family members, friends, school children and others waving flags and banners, members of VFW Post 4667 presented Arnold with an American flag, which was draped over the town’s piece of World Trade Center steel on its ride from New York, and which flew over a different group of soldiers in Iraq.
“She is there to remind our soldiers of those of us back home who are constantly thinking of them and thankful for their service,” Helms said. “And she is there to watch over all those in uniform to protect them as they serve and defend our country.”
Hairston said he’s been counting down the days to deployment since he found out many months ago.
But others have a different approach, said Scott:
“I don’t count down the days until we’re on the way home.”
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