As the 680 national guard soldiers of the 128th infantry battalion end preparations for their tour of duty in Iraq, many friends and family have joined them to say their good-byes.
After four months of training, troops received a sendoff Thursday from Camp Shelby, Mississippi, one of their training sites. Over the next few days, the soldiers will continue on to Kuwait to begin their one year of service overseas.
Specialist Zachary Fahey of Marshfield married his wife three weeks before he was deployed. Although he says the next year is going to be difficult, he knows he can rely on newly learned skills and fellow soldiers.
"These guys are going to be the guys that I’m going to be in battle with for the next year or more of my life," says Fahey, on his first active duty in two years of service. "They really have become my brothers here."
The soldiers joined forces with other groups from Vermont, Texas, Tennessee, New York, and Massachusetts, totaling more than four thousand soldiers to form 278th regimental combat team.