SOLDIER SEND-OFF: Gearing Up For Deployment

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About 60 Iowa National Guard soldiers left Camp Dodge today.  The men and women are bound for Afghanistan.  There was hardly a dry eye when they said their good-byes in front of a crowd of more than 900 people.

“There's a lot of people here for 60 soldiers,” says Amy Toubekis of University Park.

The 1034th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion will coordinate logistics for airmen, Marines and fellow soldiers.  It's a mission they completed in 2006 in Iraq.

“There's nobody does it better than Iowa National Guard soldiers,” says Iowa Adjutant General Timothy Orr.

These soldiers are husbands and wives, fathers and mothers.

“Nine times out of ten, I can keep it together, but every now and again it kinda hits ya,” says Toubekis. 

Her husband is mayor of University Park, a small town near Oskaloosa.  They have four kids.

“A piece of my heart is going with each of them.  I love them very much and I'm very proud,” says Angela Kennebeck of Ankeny.

This is her husband’s third deployment, but it`s his first trip to Afghanistan.  There's another big first this time.

“I'm taking my daughter with me,” says MSGT Dean Kennebeck, with the 1034th CSSB.

“It's a good feeling knowing that it's my first deployment to have my dad with me.  So it makes me feel a little more at ease,” says 24-year-old Megan Kennebeck.

Even for seasoned veterans, there’s nothing easy about it.

“It's a lot easier for me than it is my parents.  Obviously, I understand and very proud of her and vice versa,” says SFC Debra Verdi. 

Verdi is staying home this time.  She came to send off her sister, Maj. Kathy McKay.

“It's just emotions.  That's the hardest part of the deployment is leaving.  Once you get on the bus you can focus,” says McKay.

The soldiers will spend the next few months training at Fort Hood, Texas before leaving for Afghanistan.  They are expected to return home next summer.