Kentucky National Guards Say Their Goodbyes

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Friends and relatives said their goodbyes Thursday to members of an Iraq-bound Kentucky National Guard artillery unit that hasn't been deployed overseas since the Vietnam War, when it suffered devastating casualties.

The unit, made up largely of soldiers from Bardstown, lost five men during a surprise attack in June of 1969 when their camp was ambushed by North Vietnamese.

About two dozen veterans who lived through the ambush in South
Vietnam that day came to a small gymnasium Thursday afternoon to
commemorate the Guardsmen's departure to another unpopular war.

"I hate to see them go," said Ronnie Hibbs, 63, a former member of Battery C of the 138th Field Artillery, known in the military as "Charlie Battery."

Hibbs drew a distinction between the Vietnam War he fought in
and the war the 161 members of the National Guard battery are
headed for.

In Vietnam, "it was like it is here during the day - at night was the only time we had to worry," Hibbs said. "Now they worry all day from what I can tell."
(Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)