A Tearful Farewell To Deploying Soldiers - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

02/06/03

A Tearful Farewell To Deploying Soldiers

Time was precious, as the 71 members of the Gulfport AVCRAD got as many hugs and kisses as they could from loved ones. Little Abby Kilpatrick clung tightly to her teddy bear that was dressed in the same uniform as her daddy, Jason Kilpatrick.

"Just wanna go do the mission and come back as soon as we can safe so I can see her again," he says.

Kilpatrick's father, Allan, agrees.

"We don't want him to go, but he's gotta do what he's gotta do. So, I'm hopin' the good Lord will be with him and bring him home safe, as well as everybody else here in the unit."

The guard members specialize in aviation repair and maintenance. But they must be prepared to protect themselves if they are attacked. Each man will carry an M-16 rifle, and undergo weapons training before going overseas.

Richard Fletcher showed off his gun to his brother. Fletcher says he's not counting on a short deployment.

"When it comes down to it, yeah, it's lookin like we're gonna be there for the haul. A year's a long time, a real long time to be sittin' in the sand."

His brother Robert says, "I know he'll be comin' home in a year and I have faith he'll be comin' home. Our soldiers that are out there on the front lines if there's a war that breaks out can keep it where it's supposed to be and resolve this as quick as possible."

The final hugs and goodbyes came too soon. Around 8am roll call started. It was the signal for the men to start boarding the plane that's taking them away from their families to a mission half a world away.

The unit could be deployed for up to a year.

By:Marcia Hill

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