Guardsmen receive special community sendoff

By Al Showers - bio | email

HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - The latest Mississippi National Guard Unit preparing to deploy overseas left Hancock County Monday. Families and friends offered the First 155th Tank Operators Battalion good wishes and God Speed with a parade and luncheon.

"They are why our country's free, and this is the least that I could do," Missy Seal said.

Jeanne Greaser said, "I'm with the Soldiers Angels and we support all of the soldiers. And I felt it my duty to let these guys know that we represent them here and we want them to know we appreciate them."

The First 155th is a tank operators battalion. The unit will head to Camp Shelby for training before going overseas for a convoy escort mission.

Capt. Webster Ford with Delta Company First 155th said," Starting May the first, that's when we will go on our federal title ten orders to continue training up. And we should leave for our oversea theatre middle of the summer."

Before the parade, soldiers and their families enjoyed a send off lunch.

"This is definitely a good moral booster," Ford said. "It's an official ceremony for our soldiers and their families, and the local community is showing their support."

For most of the soldiers, this is their second deployment. But for Sergeant Ray Billeaud, the mission marks his third deployment.

"It is hard as a single parent. A lot of people send us phone cards over there, so I get to talk to them almost every day. I see them almost every day on the Internet, so it makes it a lot easier with technology now," Billeaud said.

"Of course, we're worried about them when they're in harm's way. And we want to let them know, while they're gone, they're forever foremost in our thoughts and prayers, and so are their families that are here left behind," Waveland Mayor Tommy Longo said.

The send off celebration was sponsored by the unit's Family Readiness Organization. If you'd like to help support the unit while deployed, you can contact the group at (985) 515-9711.

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