Family and friends said goodbyes at Fort Gordon on Wednesday to 287 soldiers of the 67th Expeditionary Signal Battalion who were leaving to work the next nine months in telecommunications facilities throughout the Middle East.
Asia Miles, who grew up in a military family, said this deployment was difficult. Her husband, Pvt. Douvier Miles, walked beside her, holding their 2-month-old daughter, whom he kissed continually on his way to the bus.
Miles said her husband never really discussed how difficult this deployment will be now that he has a baby.
“He’s not going to tell me he doesn’t want to go, but I know it bothers him,” she said.
The 67th Expeditionary Signal Battalion last deployed in August 2009 and returned in July 2010. Fort Gordon officials called Wednesday’s deployment one of the post’s largest in years.
The experience is a new one for Krista Fell, who said goodbye to her husband with their 2-year-old son.
“We’re a little bit scared and nervous, but we’re trying to stay positive,” Fell said.
Lt. Col. Calondra Fortson reminded the soldiers before leaving that there were two main goals in this mission: to provide “the best of the best” tactical and strategic communications support and to safely redeploy everyone back with “a hero’s badge of honor.”
Fortson also thanked the many family members who gathered with yellow roses and tissues in hand.
“You are the reason we can stand tall and ready to answer the call every time our number is picked,” she said. “… On behalf of the entire battalion, I just want to say we appreciate you, we honor you and you are our heroes.”
Before the buses could even pull away, Destiny Calvin said she was ready for the next nine months to be over so her husband could come home to her, their 5-year-old daughter and 2-year-old son.
“It takes a special person to do this. It’s not easy at all,” she said of the sacrifices of the soldiers and the families.