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Home / Military service is a tradition for many Iowa families
CEDAR RAPIDS – About 340 soldiers from the 2/34 Brigade Special Troops Battalion, also known as the “Red Bulls,” gathered with friends and family at the U.S. Cellular Center on Saturday. It was their final chance to say goodbye to loved ones before the deployment process begins.
A formal patriotic sendoff ceremony forced everyone to remain focused and strong. Then, emotions broke through the moment the service ended and the deployment officially began.
“The hardest part of any deployment is the good-bye,” Capt. Nick Poch of Riverside said.
While some families cringe at the thought of sending a son or daughter to war, many others have a long history of military service.
“I'm the seventh generation of my family to be in the military. So, it's kind of in my blood, I guess,” Specialist Kyle Leonard of Belle Plaine said.
Specialist Kyle Mumby of Belle Plaine said, “It runs in the family. My dad was in the Army, and a couple grandpas and uncles.”
Sergeant Lawrence Banes of Iowa City said, “My grandfather did it. I always wanted to give back.”
Private First Class Devon Schwering of Centerville followed his father's lead by signing up for the military.
“Having him hug me good-bye is very different from when I hugged him good-bye when he left the last time,” Schwering said.
Devon's father, Robert Schwering said, “I'm very proud of him. I couldn't be more proud of him.”
Specialist Christopher Clark's father, Michael Roberson, is a former Marine.
“I'm just overwhelmed right now. We're trying to keep the faith and pray,” Michael Roberson said.
Specialist Clark said, “I put on this uniform every day and I love it. To leave and go serve my country, it makes me very proud.”
Clark's mother, Mary Roberson, said, “I'm scared. I don't know what to feel because I've never felt like this before.”
As soldiers said their final good-byes, the stormy sky shed a few tears, too. While it will take plenty of courage to serve in the Middle East, those left behind here in Iowa must also remain brave and strong.
After all, the army of people who remain in Iowa also have a mission - providing strength, love and comfort to the men and women who signed-up to sacrifice a year of their lives so others can remain free.
Soldiers will now head to Camp Shelby, Mississippi and then move on to Fort Irwin, California before leaving for Afghanistan. All Iowa National Guard soldiers should arrive in the Middle East by Thanksgiving.