Soldiers Prepare for Deployment
BILLINGS – More than 100 Army Reserve soldiers are embarking on a year-long deployment Tuesday. This is the third deployment since 2001 for the 592nd Ordinance Company of the Montana Army Reserve, and their first to Afghanistan.
Sunday morning the soldiers and their loved ones gathered at West High School for a deployment ceremony. Senator Jon Tester spoke about how important family support is for the Army's men and women.
"The folks of the 592nd are the best of the best, obviously this country is proud of them, proud of their sacrifice. It was said many times here today [Sunday] that we're also very proud of the families, the husbands, wives, kids, parents," Senator Jon Tester (D-MT).
The company will be leaving Tuesday for training in Fort Dix, New Jersey.
We caught up with one soldier and his family at the deployment picnic Sunday afternoon. Sargeant James Garcia has always dreamed of being a combat soldier. Leaving his family behind for a year to accomplish that goal will be tough, but he said, worth it to serve his country.
He served in the Navy prior to 9/11 and then faced personal tragedy in 2005. "When I got out of the Navy we lived down South and lost everything in Hurricane Katrina," Garcia said.
The family of eight uprooted and moved to Montana to be near Garcia's father. "Lost my dad in ‘08 so I got to spend some time with him before he past. I started really evaluating my life and I missed the military so after nine and a half years I decided to rejoin," he said.
For this soldier, military is a family tradition to uphold.
"My dad went to Vietnam six times, my great uncle was a prisoner-of-war captured at the Battle of Java, survived the Battan Death March and the Death Railway. My grandfather and all his brothers were there, they all served, they're all combat veterans. I want to be a combat veteran, I don't want to be just a veteran, I want to be like them, I want to be like my dad," he said.
He said the time apart would be tough on his wife and six children. They have never experienced a deployment before. His wife said it is just time to put on a brave face and appreciate the time they still have together.
"I'm trying not to feel down because he's leaving us, because we have six children and my emotions will impact them," Taniesha Garcia said.
He is thankful Internet communication will make Afghanistan feel a little less far away from Montana.