National Guard Send Off

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Following the last local formation before deployment, local guardsmen on Monday were given a little time to spend with families and friends at Batesville Civic Center before departing for Camp Shelby where they will prepare to go to Iraq on May 1. The Panolian photo by Rupert Howell

Well wishers cheer Guard unit mobilizing for Iraq tour

By Rupert Howell

Several hundred well wishers and family members joined together Monday waving flags while buses and vehicles of the local National Guard unit headed south for training at Camp Shelby before being sent to Iraq.

Delta Company 2-198 soldiers and family members were treated to breakfast refreshments and tables of give-aways such as “Daddy Dolls” for their children and pocket size new testaments for the soldiers.

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Other well wishers would enter the Batesville Civic Center later for the going away tributes from elected officials including mayors of Batesville and Senatobia and State Representative Joe Gardner, a former member of the troop that was leaving.

Family Readiness Groups across the area have put together several send-offs the past few days and some guard units are seeing their second deployment to Iraq.

Volunteers with the Northwest Mississippi Association of Realtors assisted with several aspects of the occasion including giving away “hero packs” for the kids and selling t-shirts. The Readiness Group and Sonic provided refreshments for soldiers and families.

The University of Mississippi’s Gospel Choir lent their voices while their school’s Army ROTC Color Guard presented colors. South Panola High School band members provided patriotic music while members of the Patriot Guard supplied flags and motorcycle escort for departing troop buses.

There were slow “goodbyes” and family pictures taken prior to the troops leaving for Camp Shelby where they will train until April 24 before being mobilized May 1.