Soldiers leave Lake Charles

By Tiffany Blackmon - bio | email

LAKE CHARLES, LA (KPLC) – Family and friends said their goodbyes to members of the Louisiana National Guard's 3rd Battalion 156th Infantry, as they left for Camp Shelby in Mississippi. There, they will train for two months, before being deployed to Iraq.

"Hardest part today is watching my two children and my wife disappear into the review mirror for a long time," said Chaplain Theron Watson.

Saying goodbye for some families is nothing new.

First Sgt. Gary Burchfield stated, "This is mine and Deana's third, fourth deployment together."

For others, emotions were felt for the first time.

"I've only been married for a year and a half now, my baby she's only four months old," said Sgt. Nathaniel Orphey.

To a soldier and their family, not an extra month, day, or even a minute, would have made this moment any easier.

"Seeing the boys, they don't really understand, to have to deal with that," said Rachael Slade, wife of Sgt. Allen Slade.

With two boys and another child on the way, it will be a difficult time for Slade, however, she comes from a military background herself and understands why her husband Allen, chose to enlist.

"When I joined, I wanted to be a medic, and I wanted to help other soldiers so that's pretty much what got it started," said Sgt. Slade

Allen, like so many others, could not ignore a calling to serve.

Watson said, "It's bigger than all of us. We're serving not just Louisiana, but the people of America, and it's further reaching than that. It goes to the entire global community as we fight the ongoing war on terror."

Though they won't be going overseas, the families left behind have also made a sacrifice.

"It's what my husband wanted to do for a long time now. I did try to talk him out of it, but it's what he wanted to do and I didn't want to hold him back," said Slade.

After their two months at Camp Shelby are complete, the soldiers are scheduled to have a few days to come back and say goodbye to their families once more before deploying to Iraq.

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