Oklahoma Families Say Goodbye To 45th Infantry Brigade Soldiers

Thursday, March 31st 2011, 3:14 pm
By: News On 6

Jamie McGriff & Lacie Lowry, News On 6

TULSA, Oklahoma -- Hundreds of soldiers from the 45th Infantry Brigade got a special send off Friday morning in Tulsa and Sapulpa.

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More than 400 soldiers at the Armory at 7520 West 41st Street in Tulsa and 120 soldiers at the Armory at 13 Sahoma Lake Road in Sapulpa left for Mississippi Friday morning.

Hundreds of families and friends showed up in Tulsa and Sapulpa as they hold big sendoff ceremonies.

3/30/2011 Related Story: Oklahoma Soldiers Treated To Send-Off Dinner

Saying goodbye came all too soon for one military couple married 27 years.

"This will be the third time. I've been home a month and I'm leaving again," Specialist James Lester of Muskogee, said.

More than 400 troops with the First Battalion, 279th Infantry, 45th Infantry Brigade are being deployed to Afghanistan.

"This battalion will be deploying to regional command east in Afghanistan," Lt Colonel Chuck Booze said. "They'll be responsible for security and working with the Afghans as far as developing governance, economic development."

Leading up to the final farewell families armed soldiers with extra hugs and kisses.

"It's hard to leave but it makes it a lot better, knowing that you have everybody's support going with you," 2nd Lieutenant Nathan Perdue said.

Its support mixed with tears of love.

The first deployment is tough on Cindy Cox and her family. Her son, Shane, is being deployed. His family did what they could by making posters and holding flags to show their support. But it didn't keep this mother from fighting her feelings.

"Mostly fear. Just afraid and uncertain about his safety, about his little boy and how he'll do," Cox said.

Just the thought of going to Afghanistan worries many.

"These soldiers are well trained and the vast majority soldiers, especially the leadership, have deployed to Iraq, have deployed to Afghanistan, they've seen many of these problems and challenges and they're ready to handle it," Lieutenant Colonel Booze said.

Folks in Sapulpa lined the streets to give the men and women a proper sendoff.

Todd Wyrick couldn't put his son, Colton, down.

"I want to hold him as much as possible, because I know I'm going to miss it," Private Todd Wyrick said. "The first thing I'm going to be looking forward to is that two weeks when I get back and then just take it one day at a time."

The younger ones soaked up the enormity of their mission.

"It sucks leaving behind friends and family, but it's getting the journey started," PFC Beau Richards said. "The sooner it starts, the quicker it ends."

"We're here to support the community and the community supports us and we're family," Jackie Bunce, a soldier's wife. "I'm not even a soldier and it's just neat to see the community here to support us as well."

Jackie Bunce's husband is deploying and to share her pride in his service, she enlisted some help.

"Most people actually heard it from Facebook and it wasn't just Facebook. The entire family readiness group spread the word," she said. "Everybody just spread the word."

The result was people lining the street, posters and flags in hand, alongside the Patriot Guard and American Veterans Motorcyle Club.

"It makes you feel like everything that you do, you're giving up time with your family and your spouse and your husband and your loved ones for a reason. It's for the community and the people," Bunce said.