Company D Rolls Out of Newport

NEWPORT - It was a day of tears and smiles and hugs as the men and women of D company loaded up the buses and departed for their year-long deployment to Iraq.

Maj. Craig Heathscott, Army National Guard. "Today we're sending off delta company of the second of the 153rd infantry of the 39th brigade, we're gonna load up about a hundred soldiers, both male and female on the bus and send them on a ride down to Camp Shelby Mississippi."

These words technically describe what happened in Newport today as Company D began their year long deployment to Iraq.

What they don't say is the emotional feeling that was running through the unit.

"Well I'm gonna miss her for a long time and I really don't want her to go."

Avery Bryants mom Rachel is deploying for the first time with her unit. Rachel leaves behind two daughters and a husband Norman who must assume a dual role while mom is away.

Norman Bryant, "Well I've done it before, I did it when she was in basic and AIT, I took care of them then. It's not going to be the same but we'll manage."

For many of the troops departing today this will be their first time to be deployed to the middle East.  Last time the unit was called up they were in Texas for five months of training. This time when the battalion was activated, they were able to do most training right here at home.

Heathscott, "The reason we went on in October was to get all this individual training done. Do it here in the state of Arkansas as opposed to an active duty post somewhere, which would have taken the soldiers away from their families for a much longer period. "

Delta company has a core of experienced soldiers that have bee deployed to Iraq before but for first time soldiers going overseas can be a scary experience.

SPC. Rachel Bryant, "I'm scared, I'm really scared, but I'm gonna come home to my babies."

Rachel is new to this unit and so many of the troops she is working with now are still strangers but she feels confident with their experience and her comrades in arms.

Bryant, "But I'm gonna have to put my faith in them and they're gonna help me come back home."

Heathscott, "If I'm going into a dangerous environment like Iraq obviously is, it's very comforting to know you got a bunch of guys and gals that have already been there before. They know what to do, they are very well trained and they are able to pass that information, that knowledge base onto the younger soldiers."

As the buses rolled through Newport, groups lined the highway to wave flags and banners and show their support for the troops. Leading the way on her motorcycle was Agnes Jones. A mother of a soldier who was with D company on it's first deployment.

Agnes Jones, "We really appreciate everything the guys have done for us I had a son over there that came back in 2004 and he was part of this group going out of Newport so a lot of these guys are near and dear to our hearts. So their special to us and we just want them to know that we appreciate them and we love them and we support em. "

The 39th has been mobilized for about 400 days. So counting time in training we expect to see them all return in January of 2009.