Reporting Alex DeMetrick
ABERDEEN PROVING GROUND, Md. (WJZ)– Not long after the 9/11 attacks, members of Maryland’s National Guard were deployed to Iraq. Ten years later, they’re being sent to Iraq again.
Alex DeMetrick was at Aberdeen Proving Grounds for the goodbyes.
As 124 Maryland National Guardsmen scrambled to get into formation, it was with the knowledge they are leaving their civilian lives and families for the next year.
For some, it’s a first deployment.
“Just anxious, I guess, about what’s going to happen,” said PFC. Sarah Bush of the Maryland National Guard. “Trying new things. Going to miss my family. Going to miss my boy.”
For those who have done it more than once, it is still a hard day.
For Thaddeus and Joyce Harrington, this should be a honeymoon. They were married Monday.
“I’m going to try not to act like a spolied brat and be an adult,” Joyce Harrington said. “After a point, we all need to grow up, so this is my day to grow up.”
This mission will support American troops as they withdraw from Iraq.
“It’s a command and control unit for all the aviation assets in Iraq,” said Maj. Gen. James Adkins, Adjunct General of Maryland. “Maryland will have the responsibility for all aviation management in Iraq.”
This guard unit will be part of a 2,000-man unit deploying from a dozen states.
“I’m excited to go over there and do our mission and help the Iraqi people,” Keith Maynard of the Maryland National Guard said. “At the same time, a little, not upset, but it’s hard leaving your loved ones.”
“Very proud, and look forward to coming back safely,” Keith Maynard’s wife, June Maynard, said.
But at a moment like this, coming back can feel a long way off for soldiers and families who make a committment like this together, knowing it may some day break them apart.
The Maryland Guard unit will first travel to Fort Hood, Texas to finalize training before moving on to Iraq.