Oklahoma Soldiers Begin Deployment To Afghanistan

Monday, June 13th 2011, 5:02 pm
By: News On 6

Craig Day, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- The first batch of soldiers from Oklahoma are headed to Afghanistan. The soldiers left Camp Shelby in Mississippi where they've been training.

5/25/2011 Related Story: Real Life Scenarios Prepare Oklahoma Soldiers For Battle

It will take about three weeks to get all of the soldiers from Oklahoma to Afghanistan, where they'll serve for nine months.

A Tulsa woman hopes it's a safe and speedy deployment. She has twice the worry.

Debbie Griffith's husband, Eric, left Camp Shelby Mississippi a week ago and is now in Afghanistan. Her son, Mark White, is home on leave for a few days before he also heads to the war zone with the 45th Infantry.

"I'm really proud of the guys. They are, they're my heroes," Griffith said.

Mark is enjoying a little downtime with his family, including his almost three year old son Camden. They held his birthday party a little early while daddy is home.  Saying goodbye will be tough, but Mark is anxious to get the mission started.

"We had a lot of good training and stuff, so I'm just ready go and do the job we have to do and get back over here," he said.

It will be Mark's second deployment and Eric's third. As a military mom and a military wife, Debbie will worry.

"I do have a lot of family and a lot of friends that are helping out, but I try to stay busy," Griffith said.

The soldiers from Oklahoma are leaving Camp Shelby over the next few weeks.

"We'll stair step out," White said.

Mark expects to be in Afghanistan within the next ten days.

"We come from a military family, so we're all pretty proud and I'm mostly proud of my family, because my Mom has to deal with both of us being over there and stuff," he said.

As military families count down the days until their loved ones leave the safety of the U.S., soon a different countdown will begin. Debbie Griffith will now mark off each day as she counts down toward the day both return home.

She'll wear copies of her husband and son's dog tags,

"I wear them close to my heart," she said.

About 1,000 soldiers from Oklahoma who've been training in Mississippi won't be headed to Afghanistan after all. They're being redirected to Kuwait, where they will handle operations in and out of Iraq.