By Rupert Howell
BATESVILLE – Several hundred well wishers and family members joined together last Monday, April 13, waving flags while buses and vehicles of the local National Guard unit headed south for training at Camp Shelby before being sent to Iraq.
Delta Company 2-198 soldiers and family members were treated to breakfast refreshments and tables of give-aways such as “Daddy Dolls” for their children and pocket size new testaments for the soldiers.
Other well wishers would enter the Batesville Civic Center later for the going away tributes from elected officials including mayors of Batesville and Senatobia and State Representative Joe Gardner, a former member of the troop that was leaving.
Family Readiness Groups across the area have put together several send-offs the past few days and some guard units are seeing their second deployment to Iraq.
Volunteers with the Northwest Mississippi Association of Realtors assisted with several aspects of the occasion including giving away “hero packs” for the kids and selling t-shirts. The Readiness Group and Sonic provided refreshments for soldiers and families.
The University of Mississippi’s Gospel Choir lent their voices while their school’s Army ROTC Color Guard presented colors. South Panola High School band members provided patriotic music while members of the Patriot Guard supplied flags and motorcycle escort for departing troop buses.
While most of the soldiers were headed to Camp Shelby for their week-long annual training after Monday’s sendoff, all of the troops will head to Camp Shelby on May 1. They will train there until June 9, when many will return home for a short visit, before returning to Camp Shelby on June 13 or 14. From that point the troops will start flying out and heading overseas.
At least seven Yalobushians are included in the deployment. The soldiers include Staff Sergeant Tony Hernandez, Jr., Sergeant John Hernandez, Corporal Jason Brown, Private First Class Tracy Woods, Private Christopher Bishop and Private Randall Perkins.
The Company will be stationed at Balad Airbase in Northern Iraq for approximately a year. Balad Airbase is located in Northern Iraq approximately 68 kilometers north of Baghdad. Balad Airbase is one of the largest Airbases in Iraq.
(Editors Note : The Herald is compiling a list of Yalobushians in this deployment. If we have not included your family member, please give us a call at 662-473-1473 or drop us a note to 416 North Main St. Water Valley, MS 38965 or email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org.)