Supportive Send-off for Region 8 Soldiers - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Walnut Ridge -- Kathy Morris Reports

Supportive Send-off for Region 8 Soldiers

October 30, 2003 -- Posted at 11:30pm

WALNUT RIDGE, AR - Soldiers with the 39th Infantry Brigade will soon be saying goodbye to their friends and family members. They leave Saturday for Fort Hood, Texas as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. A supportive send-off was held Thursday night for members of Company A, 2nd Battalion, 153rd Infantry.

"I knew it was coming. We knew it was coming, but I just wasn't ready," said Kristie Hayes, wife of Sergeant Joel Hayes.

The nearly 100 soldiers were told in July they would be headed to the Middle East. Many of the men returned home to Arkansas just over a year ago, after serving for 10 months in Egypt.

Sergeant Joel Hayes replied, "It seemed like it was just yesterday, but that's why we signed on the dotted line. To serve our country if called on."

Private First Class Frank Forrester's daughter, Maranda, said her father re-joined the Arkansas Army National Guard after the attacks on September 11, 2001. She said, "I didn't want him to go, but I'm proud of him, and I'm gonna miss him a lot."

Maranda understands why her father must leave, but 2 year old Jacob Hayes likely doesn't. His father videotaped activities the two engage in while at home to help remind him his father loves him and will return home.

The troops will head to Fort Hood, Texas Saturday for additional training. Then in February, they'll move to Fort Polk, Louisiana. Finally, they'll fly over to Baghdad in March to patrol that city's streets. While they're gone, a yellow ribbon bearing their names will be displayed around an Oak Tree at the Lawrence County Courthouse. It will be removed when the soldiers return. They could be gone up to 1.5 years.

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