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Emotions real at Guard deployment

The emotions Friday as members of the 1156th Military Police Detachment readied for their deployment to Iraq and Kuwait were raw, real and powerful.

There obviously was a little bit of sadness, as the 12 men prepare to say goodbye to their wives, children, mothers and fathers, and life as they know it for the next 12 months.

But those tears were sweetened by the overwhelming pride and patriotism that filled the room at Fort Ivan Smith in Clanton.

You could see it on the faces of the soldiers and their family members.

It was a moving ceremony as unit commander Bill Ford thanked the wives and mothers for their support of Guard members and promised to bring their husbands and sons home.

I think Brig. Gen. Charles H. Gailes Jr. pretty much summed up everyone’s sentiment Friday when he told the men to: “Do your job. Do it well. Come home.”

We all want them and the Alabama flag they are working under to come back just the way they left.

The unit will spend the next year overseas, conducting military investigations. The men work with different law enforcement agencies across Alabama and possess a valuable skill set that will help support the work of other troops in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Ford said the unit was the Army’s version of CSI, and their work will help solve serious crimes being committed and help bring suspects to justice.

The men will spend a few weeks at Fort Hood in Texas before starting their work in the Middle East.

Since 9/11, more than 16,000 citizen soldiers from the Alabama Army and Air National Guard have been called into active duty — a stat that shows Alabama’s patriotism.

I wish members of the 1156th the best of luck in their important work and thank them and their families for their service.

Justin Averette is the managing editor for The Clanton Advertiser.