Tulsa-Area Soldiers Leaving For Iraq

Sunday, February 8th 2009, 5:21 pm
By: News On 6

By Jeffrey Smith, The News on 6

TULSA, OK -- More than a dozen Tulsa-area soldiers have been called up to fight in Iraq.

Friends and family said goodbye in a special farewell ceremony Sunday.

All 15 soldiers have a story to tell.

"I know that I'll be fine out there, that they'll take care of me out there since I'm the youngest one and everything will be all right," Army Pfc. Charlene Pruitt said.

Pruitt turned 18 only two days ago. She already knows what she'll miss most -- "spending time with my friends, going shopping, of course, and my grandmother's cooking."

Sgt. Annette Rogers is a single mom of three. It's her second deployment, and she says it doesn't get easier.

"Because of the position I'm in, I put the Army before my family sometimes, and they can see that," Rogers said.

Her teenage son watched his mom's big promotion at the ceremony. He says he's thinking of only one thing.

"I'm just very proud of her and hope she's safe overseas," Jason Rogers said.

One mom and dad drove 700 miles from South Dakota. Joanne Johnson says she can't get used to having her son half a world away.

"Just the contact," Johnson said. "He's been away for so many years, but it's just the contact, the calling."

Sgt. Jeremie Johnson says it's an honor to serve his country but also a sacrifice.

"You can't just pick up a phone and say, 'Hi, how you doing?' And that is hard," he said.

The soldiers are on a mission, and they have a song in their hearts.

"It gives me pride to wear this uniform every single day, to go out and know that I'm fighting for this country," Pruitt said.

It's the first deployment in more than a year for the 164th Quartermaster Group based in Broken Arrow.

The soldiers have a few days off before they fly out, and they will stay in Iraq for 13 months.