National Guard soldiers say goodbye to loved ones

By: Marcus Conroy Email
By: Marcus Conroy Email

Friends and families across Kentucky are saying goodbye to soldiers leaving for training, and then Iraq.

They are reporting for Operation New Dawn, and are part of the largest Kentucky National Guard deployment since World War II.

130 of those troops are based in Harlan.

This is the third time Captain Jason Penn is reporting for active duty. But he says this deployment is very different.

"I've been married since my last one, and I've got an 11-month old baby. I'm gonna miss them," said Penn.

For more than 100 soldiers, this is one last warm embrace, one last kiss, and one last goodbye with loved ones.

"Training and conditioning, we're professional soldiers and can handle all that. But leaving our families, it's really emotional," said National Guard soldier David Day.

Susan Liford had simple words for her son, Joseph, before he got on the bus.

"I love you and I'll pray for you everyday," said Liford.

Even though this year will be tough for her and her family, she says says she cannot contain how proud she is of her son.

"I'm very sad, but I'm so proud that these soldiers are going to put to an end what was started so long ago," said Liford.

"It is an extreme honor to be part of this. It's history in the making," said Penn.

They may be departing for another part of the world, but for many of these brave soldiers, their thoughts will be back at home and with the community that has supported them throughout their journey.

The soldiers were addressed by Governor Steve Beshear in Louisville before they arrived in Indiana for training. They will be deployed to Iraq later this summer.

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