Sendoff ceremony held for 875th soldiers

By Brandi Hodges - bio | email

FORT MCCOY, WI (KAIT) - On Wednesday morning, nearly two hundred men from Region 8 will board a plane and take a twenty hour flight to Afghanistan.

196 men who are trained, ready, and willing are almost ready to leave US soil.

"It's all about concentrating, getting our minds set straight, trying to figure out how we're going to react over there what we're going to do," said Private Jacque Tyler.

A few weeks ago no farewell ceremony was planned but Adjunct General William Wofford said they decided to change that.

"The great folks from Northeast Arkansas, in typical fashion, are here to do the same thing," said Wofford.

Several dignitaries from Arkansas and Jonesboro want these soldiers to know their value to the city and state.

"This is just a small token of our appreciation of what we think about the 875th and what they're doing protecting our freedom," said Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin.

"It was unexpected but something that everybody can have a little inspiration from," said Tyler.

This will be the first deployment for Private Jacque Tyler.  He said it means a lot to have a show of support from home.

"It's a good remembrance of what we've got back home.  Even when we are away it lets us know we've still got people back home who are willing to take time out of their schedule and daily routine to come up and see us," said Tyler.

And he's not alone.  All of the soldiers in the group who are ready to deploy have ties to Region 8.   These are men we have to keep in our hearts over the next year because they're keeping us in theirs.

"Jonesboro, the state of Arkansas everybody appreciates what we're doing and is concerned about their well being," said Captain Brad Smart.

"The state of Arkansas is behind us it shows us they do care that they don't just send us off and forget about us," said Lt. Adam Moore.

Captain Smart is the commander of the 875th on this mission.  He said having a send off ceremony like this one will help in these final days.

"Any little bit of support that these guys see they really appreciate it.  It helps them, it picks them up, lifts their spirits and makes them understand the work they're doing is appreciated," said Smart.

Also at Monday's ceremony several men were recognized for their accomplishments while on base at Fort McCoy.  Two of the men, Staff Sergeant Thomas Hart and Specialist Anthony Taylor received purple hearts for their service from when the 875th was in Iraq.

On the trip Monday were Jonesboro Mayor Harold Perrin, Craighead County representative L.M. Duncan, and Carl Mosby with VFW Post 1991 along with other media outlets.  The plane, the time of the pilots, and fuel for the trip were all donated for the day.  Mayor Perrin says that comes to a price tag of around $7,000.

When the soldiers return from Afghanistan in November or December of this year, Captain Brian Mason tells Region 8 News the 875th will demobilize at Camp Shelby in Mississippi.

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