Green Country Guardsmen Prepare For Possible Iraq Tour

Monday, April 9th 2007, 10:09 am
By: News On 6

Thirty-five hundred Oklahoma National Guard members are put on alert. The Department of Defense says the 45th Infantry Brigade could be sent to Iraq in January. The alert has many Green Country guardsmen and their families preparing for deployment. After spending a year in Afghanistan, this deployment would be Major Tom Mancino's second tour in a war zone. He's experienced and ready to go, but the News On 6’s Heather Lewin reports that doesn't make it any easier to tell his family goodbye.

Tom Mancino's known since last month that thousands of Oklahoma guardsmen could be on their way to Iraq.

“I'm pretty excited at the opportunity to go again and serve my country, also a little bit of nervousness I guess as I look back on what it took last time to go," said Tom Mancino.

Not nervous about his mission, he says, but for his wife and kids left behind at home.

“That's really where most of my concern is at,” Tom Mancino said. “I'm worried about their well-being while I'm gone and how they'll handle my being gone."

It's a fear many in the military say is the toughest part of any deployment.

“I miss him. He's my husband,” said Tom Mancino’s wife Katherine. “He's also the father of my children, and it's so hard to see your kids miss their daddy."

Both say the role of the Guard was different when they married 10 years ago.

“I would've never dreamed that he would be going to a war zone overseas, but I also understand it, and we support the cause," said Katherine Mancino.

“I think now we're seen as a very important and vibrant part of the force,” said Tom Mancino. “And as we've seen in Iraq, it's really necessary that our Guard and Reserve forces assist our active duty brothers in conducting their missions."

Katherine Mancino says she feels fortunate he's been called up before. She has faith in his training and ability, and now she knows what to expect and how to prepare her family.

"I know that we'll weather this storm again, and he'll come home and things will be fine," said Katherine Mancino.

Tom Mancino says his biggest goal is just to bring everyone he goes with back home safely. Again, this isn't the final word on deployment. These units are at the ready for now. According to the Department of Defense, conditions on the ground in Iraq at the end of the year will determine if they go.

Related stories:

1/31/2007 - 3,500 Oklahoma National Guards Troops May Be Headed For Iraq

2/1/2007- Oklahoma Governor Sees Too Much Reliance On National Guard In War Effort

4/7/2007 - Guard Troops Wait For Deployment Word