WEST MEMPHIS - (KAIT) Members of the 216th Military Police company, a part of the 39th loaded up their bus today, said goodbye to their families and headed back to Camp Shelby Mississippi.
A quick stop on the way to Iraq.
With tears and hugs and handshakes another group of Arkansas soldiers heads for Iraq via a short stop at Camp Shelby, Mississippi.
Sgt. Jessica Baugh will be a truck commander. "I'm responsible for everybody in that truck. Giving the commands on when to fire, when not to fire, when to turn left and when to turn right, things of that nature."
Jessica will turn 22 next week. Her mother Petra organized the send-off for the troops today. She says she's worried for her daughters safety but is passing it onto a higher power.
"I made her, I took care of her for 22 years and now I gave her to God and he gonna make sure she gonna be ok over there and come back home."
The send off was a bridge between generations, members of the Marion-west Memphis vfw took time to serve BBQ and share patriotism with a new generation of soldiers.
One of the things that stood out to me today was the wanting to get on with the job.
Baugh, "I just want to get over there and come back, that's all I'm thinking. That I can remember everything I was trained to do and hopefully bring everybody back home."
Specialist Lyle Humphries says for him the worst part of the deployment will be the long flight over the water, the country and it's conditions, don't even phase him. Humphries, "I know it's gonna be hot, dusty and sandy and all that, but I can handle that."
Sgt. Beau Stevens leaves behind a wife and three children. His daughter Hailey at 4 is the oldest. He says he is ready to go anywhere with this unit.
Stevens, "I've been ready to go. I volunteered and got disqualified fo I've been ready to go for a while. I've been with them for almost ten years and I wouldn't be anywhere else."
With the sounds of the rifle salute echoing across the parking lot, the baggage was loaded, last minute hugs and kisses were exchanged and the bus rolled away through town. Baugh, "Everybody is family, were brothers and sisters, we fight, we laugh we cry, they're good people."
The 216th will spend 1, possibly 2 weeks finishing up at Camp Shelby before departing to an undisclosed location in Iraq.