Craig Day, News On 6
BARTLESVILLE, Oklahoma -- A group of soldiers heading to a war zone got an Oklahoma goodbye Friday. Members of the 321st Military Police unit based in Oklahoma said goodbye to family and friends as they began their deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan.
The deployment ceremony took place in Bartlesville. As the men and women began their mission, their loved ones tried to hold back tears.
All the people gathered at the Reserve Center in Bartlesville, including the children, knew this day would come. Chiara Miller knew she would have to say goodbye to her daddy.
"I'm sad that my dad is going to leave, and I'm going to miss him," she said.
Chiara's dad, Scott Miller, is a state trooper from Fort Gibson. He is one of 21 men and women in uniform who are each saying their own goodbyes.
"I've got all kinds of support; that's the key," he said. "I don't know what I would do if I didn't have the friends and family that I do have."
Most of the members of the 321st MP Criminal Investigation Division are going to Iraq. A few will go to Afghanistan.
James and Jonna Vanlandingham are from Ada.
"When I found out I was going, I could have retired," James Vanlandingham said. "I could have said ‘No, I'm going to quit,' but."
"He had to do it," Jonna said.
The guard members all have law enforcement backgrounds in their civilian lives. They'll investigate any crimes that might be committed by U.S. military personnel overseas.
While they aren't anxious to say goodbye, they are ready to get their mission underway.
"The guys over there, that we're replacing, get them back home to their families," said Sergeant First Class Kerry Hommertzheim. "They've been gone a year now, so they want to get home. Just get over there do our mission, be safe and come home to our families."
Until they can come home, the soldiers will try to stay in touch as best they can.
Scott Miller has orders from Chiara.
"I want to do Skype. I'm going to miss you a lot and I want to see your face. I want to see him every day," said Chiara Miller,
As they load the bus and pull away, even though they'll be thousands of miles away before long, their hearts will always be thinking of home.
"Day one is just one day closer to the day you come back," said Sergeant Scott Miller.