Soldiers share time with family before year-long deployment

Updated: Jun. 22, 2019 at 6:12 PM CDT
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PASCAGOULA, Miss. (WLOX) - Before the National Guard 859th Engineer Company ships out for a year-long deployment to Kuwait, the City of Pascagoula sent them off in style.

Community members and family were invited to the Aaron James Family Interactive Center to send off the soldiers. The celebration included music, cake and other refreshments.

“We can’t do what we need to do as far as (being) soldiers without family and the support of the community,” said Lt. Col. Chris Thomas, the battalion commander of the 859th.

The company consists of 158 soldiers trained as plumbers, electricians and carpenters. Overseas in Kuwait, they will improve and enhance the installation wherever their skills are needed.

For some, this is their first time deploying, while others have been down this road before. Lisa and Kevin Everettt are some of those people. This husband and wife team are in the 859th engineer company together. Kevin is going, but Lisa is staying.

“It’s a big change,” Lisa said. “Everything that he’s responsible for at home, I have to do.”

The couple has seven children and three grandchildren. They said on previous deployments, they made communication a priority.

"We had a book that I would write a letter in it, and mail it to him, and he would write a letter and mail it back to me. So we'll probably do that again this year, and we still have the first book," Lisa said.

Video chats, phone calls and letters home are all encouraged to be done by the soldiers and their families.

“It just provides a level of comfort and security for both sides,” Thomas said.

Security is a big deal. In the politically tense climate of the Middle East, the mission always comes first, but the soldiers and their family’s lives never stop being important. Commanding officers said the communication keeps the soldiers grounded.

"Hopefully, we will get to a place where one day, we don’t need to be there in perhaps the numbers that we are now,” Thomas said.

The soldiers said achieving peace is an ongoing endeavor, but they will continue to be there supporting the country’s allies and partners until it’s done.

Next Saturday morning, the mayors of Pascagoula and Gautier are inviting people to wave flags on the sides of Highway 90 as the company leaves the armory in Pascagoula to go to Kuwait.

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