One Year On, Two Weeks Off, One Year On

July 17, 2003 - Posted at: 3:24 p.m. CDT

WEST MEMPHIS, Ark. -- Despite major combat ending in Iraq, and a sense of control in Afghanistan, American soldiers are still leaving the U.S. for foreign lands.

Over one hundred soldiers with the National Guard's 216th Military Police Guard Company were deployed Thursday. They left their West Memphis headquarters to support Operations Noble Eagle and Enduring Freedom.

The unit just returned from a tour in Fort Leonardwood, Mo., only two weeks ago and now they will be away from family and friends for yet another year. Michael Oringe, a member of the 216th, says this journey finds them strong physically, but drained mentally.

"It's kinda hard leaving our family's right now we just come back from one deployment in Fort Leonardwood," Oringe said. "We were up there for nine months and now we're going to Cuba for a year so it's kinda hard right now."

The unit will stop for a brief stint at Fort Dix, N.J., before heading on to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Captain Betty Anderson says leaving so soon after the last tour is tough on soldiers but they are ready to do the job they signed up for.

"It's a lot of separation pains for the families, but we knew when we signed the papers to protect and serve our country," Anderson said. "We feel proud about our mission and we are ready to go."

Soldiers say they are proud to serve their country and they need Americans' prayers and support for all soldiers defending the country.