• Georgia National Guard troops have a send-off before deployment

    By: Diana Davis


    STEPHENS COUNTY, Ga - The last Georgia National Guard troops scheduled to be deployed to Afghanistan were sent off with a rousing tribute.

    It is the first deployment for many members of Toccoa’s Army National Guard Engineer Unit.

    Channel 2’s Diana Davis reported from the ceremony Thursday. It was the last time most of teh soilders will see their families until sometime next year.

    For 65 percent of Toccoa’s 876th Vertical Engineering Company, it is the first deployment and the first time they have left their families behind. Their missions were mostly construction operations and training Afghan forces for the expected U.S withdrawal in 2016.

    Even though they say they have been well trained and prepared, the men and women know the risks they will face during their nine-month deployment.

    “My fear is that I won’t be able to see my son and daughter grow up. That I won’t come home,” Sgt. Taylor Waller said.

    "There's a lot of stress that goes involved with it leading troops, but I've been preparing myself and my family," said Company Commander Captain Tyler Cook. It's also it's first deployment.

    And he has been preparing his family.

    "God gave me the man of my dreams and I'm going to let Uncle Sam borrow him to fight for other people's dreams," said Tyler's wife, Danielle Cook.

    Though they may be the last Georgia Guard troops to leave, they know this is what they signed up for.

    This will be Lagarius Talbert’s first deployment and he said his dad has gone several times. His father spoke about how he feels about his son shipping out.

    “You know that when he joined the National Guard, it was a possibility. You pray for peace, but know you are prepared for war,” Vasquez Talbert said.

    The U.S. war on terror has raged on for 13 years. Each of the troops is hoping that somehow, he/she can make a difference.

    The troops roll out of Toccoa Friday morning. They will spend a month at Fort Bliss, Texas, then on to Afghanistan. They should return sometime next spring 2015.

    With combat operations in Afghanistan ending this year, Monday, president Obama announced plans for almost 10 thousand  us troops to remain next year if the Afghan government signs a security agreement. All troops should be home by 2016.

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