Another 100 south Mississippi soldiers have started the long trek back to the Iraqi war zone. Members of Gulfport's 1108th AVCRAD unit will spend the next two months training at Camp Shelby. Once that's done, they'll fly to the Iraqi region and repair America's damaged war planes.
If Kelly Anderson looked lost as he wandered around the AVCRAD hanger, it was because he was headed into what for him and his family were uncharted waters. Anderson was about to embark on his first deployment.
"Just ready to get it over with, get it done," he said moments before a send off ceremony started.
Anderson was one of the 100 1108th AVCRAD members at the unit's hangar, trying to capture one final moment with loved ones. Anderson admitted he was a bit nervous because "going over to a war zone and all that, you never know what's going to happen."
Around the AVCRAD hangar, children played, and wives wiped away tears. Nola Anderson tried to smile. But it was hard.
"I don't like it. I don't like it at all," the soldier's wife said. In six years of marriage, the Anderson couple has never been apart.
Mrs. Anderson could learn a thing or two about separations caused by deployments from Peggy Davis. She was sitting two rows behind the Andersons. Davis wasn't thrilled with the deployment of her husband.
"To begin with I say why again," she admitted. "But I believe in what he does and I support him in supporting our country."
Peggy's husband was about to begin his third stint in the Iraqi region.
"This part of it is the hardest part," Staff Sergeant Jim Davis said. "But once you get going, everything gets better and you get focused on what you're supposed to be doing, so once you get there it's a lot easier."
Most of the soldiers in Davis' unit seemed relaxed as they boarded buses and headed off to war. One even looked at the WLOX News camera and said, "Hey Dad. Hey Mom."
Before leaving, the 1108th commander said he would do everything he could to make this another successful deployment for south Mississippi's aircraft mechanics.
According to Col. James Young, "You're doing your part to carry the torch and light the way for freedom loving people around the world."
Once the unit heads overseas, it will be based out of Kuwait. However, aircraft maintenance teams will be sent to various parts of Iraq and Afghanistan. Their deployment should last a year.