WALNUT RIDGE, AR -- Over 100 soldiers spent several hours with their families Monday morning before getting on a bus to head to Camp Shelby in Mississippi. For the next two months the soldiers will finish their training before they are ready to be deployed to Iraq.
While 50% of the 3,200 soldiers that are being deployed have seen active combat the other 50% haven't. In fact, for many of them this is their first deployment.
"I'm happy and sad and worried and concerned about her but I know everything is going to be fine," said soldier Ralph Tanner.
Tanner and his family have had a rough couple of months.
"It's a flood of emotions. 30 days ago I graduated from basic training in Georgia. A week before Christmas we found out we were getting to adopt this precious little baby then we've got to leave for Mississippi," said Tanner.
And just as he was already preparing to bring home new baby Emily, while at the same time getting ready to leave her for active duty, he received another blow; the loss of his mother on New Years Eve.
"She's the bright spot in the tragic loss of my mother. I think she's going to be able to help everybody deal with it and get through it," said Tanner.
But Tanner is not alone. Every one of these soldiers has a story and a family they are leaving behind.
"They're sacrificing for all of us. They're leaving their families behind, their children, their spouses, their livelihood and they're doing all of this as volunteers," said J.D. Edwards.
"It's really tough. I do have an eight month old little boy and it's going to be really hard to leave him but I have a really strong and supportive wife that's been here for me kind of got me where I am today," said Captain B.J. Vincent.
"I'm just thankful for everything my family has done for me. I'm looking forward to seeing this out and getting back here to this baby," said Tanner.
And while the soldiers are gone it's also important for us to remember the families that are left behind.
"Just continue to show support. If you see family members around with yellow ribbons and you just know that that's someone who has a deployed soldier come up and say hello and really take care of them while we're gone so we know we can depend on them," said Vincent.