Monday, August 29, 2005

Sad, Sad, Sad. That's how this morning went. I didn't think it was going to be that bad but that's the way it turned out. I was glad that they gave us a night at the hotel. It was really nice of the unit to do that. And a nice hotel it was. We all had to report for formation at the armory at 1600. After that we loaded up some more bags, heard a speech from the General, Brigade commander, and the State Command Sergeant Major. The Command Sergeant Major gave us an Arizona Flag. She requested that we take it with us to Iraq and take a group photo to post in the gallery of the State Headquarters for all to see. I'm pretty sure that we might end up hanging that AZ flag at our post in Iraq as well.

Well, my Angelica, my wife called me from the hotel to let me know that she was on the way. She was choking up. I knew she was taking it hard, so was I. I really didn't want to talk on the phone because my throat was getting all choked up. My Cousin Irene, Alex, and my Uncle Ray were the first ones to see me off at the Armory. I was really glad they came. Next was my Tia Juana and my Mom. Both were holding back tears. It was hard for me to hold them back too. Then finally Angelica showed up. It made the moment sadder. Now part of me didn't want to leave. Before I had no problems leaving.

The media was there. They took interviews of some of the soldiers. There were helicopters flying and recording the event in the air. There was rumors among the troops that President Bush was going to secretly meet us at the airport to thank us for our service.

Finally the moment came when I had to board the bus, to go to the airport. I gave everyone a kiss and a hug. I waited to be the last one. I wasn't in a hurry to leave. I wasn't in a hurry to find a seat. I didn't care. I wanted to capture the moment. It was a good one. I boarded the bus, turned around and waved goodbye, trying to hold back tears. As I sat on the bus I watched my family stand there, watching, waiting for the busses to leave. They all seemed sad. I also know that they were proud. I'll miss my wife and kids the most.

Below are some photos from our departure.

Here's a quote from the AP. Were were in the news today.

National Guard soldiers to deploy

12:56 PM Mountain Standard Time on Monday, August 29, 2005

By The Associated Press

MESA -- A major portion of one of the Arizona National Guard's combat units is likely headed to Iraq, with the soldiers involved expected to perform new duties.

Approximately 150 soldiers of the 1-180 Field Artillery Battalion were scheduled to leave their Mesa armory Monday to travel to Fort Lewis, Wash., for several months of predeployment training.

After that, the soldiers are expected to deploy to Iraq to perform security duties that typically would be performed by a military police company, said Capt. Paul Aguirre, a National Guard spokesman.

The Army has deployed numerous units of various specialties to Iraq to augment the service's military police. "They need them over there," Aguirre said.

The battalion has approximately 500 soldiers, many of whom have previously performed security duty at such places as the Palo Verde nuclear plant, Luke Air Force Base and Sky Harbor International Airport.

The Arizona National Guard said more than 3,000 Army National Guard and Air National Guard personnel have been ordered to federal active duty since Sept. 11, 2001.

Here are the guys, getting off the bus at the airport.

Here we are getting on the airplane.

I thought this was pretty cool. We fly straight over the Grand Canyon. I've been there before but never over it. I thought the aerial pictures would be pretty neat.


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