Oklahoma Soldiers Treated To Send-Off Dinner

Wednesday, March 30th 2011, 8:42 pm
By: News On 6

Lacie Lowry, News On 6

VINITA, Oklahoma -- Oklahoma National Guard members enjoyed a night of family time and home cooking Wednesday in Vinita.

The soldiers, with the 279th Infantry Division of the 45th Brigade, ship out in just two days.

3/3/2011 Related Story: Oklahoma National Guard Soldiers Train For Afghanistan

"I think it's really important for the families to know that the community cares this much for the soldiers. Capt Christopher Purzer, 279th Infantry Regiment:

The American Legion Post and Auxiliary Unit threw the dinner for the soldiers, who recently returned from intense training at Camp Gruber and other installations, hoping to over-prepare for what they'll experience in Aghanistan.

Anthony Cole says, that's just the physical side of battle.

"Mentally, that's the tough part. It's hard because I have a 13-year-old son and I won't get to see him for a year," he said.

The Rinehart family of Vinita knows the importance of community support. This is Jeff Rinehart's third deployment.

"It hits us that day, it doesn't hit us the day before, it's always that morning or that day that he leaves, that's when it hits us and we'll all cry," Lynda Rinehart, Jeff's wife, said.

This group is part of 3,000 total soldiers with the 45th deploying in what will be the largest single deployment for the Oklahoma National Guard since the Korean War.

"I do this for the people who can't and won't," Staff Sgt Jeff Rinehart, 279th Infantry Regiment, said. "If it allows me to have my kids grow up in a country where they can do whatever they want, whenever they want, then I'll do this until I'm 110."

2/16/2011 Related Story: Families Bid Farewell To Oklahoma Soldiers Heading To Afghanistan

This regiment leaves this Friday for more training in Mississippi, then they'll deploy from there to Afghanistan.

They'll be performing peace-keeping missions, which they say basically comes down to gaining the trust of villagers, so they'll eventually trust their own security forces.