Guardsmen hold deployment ceremony

November 30, 2008 7:02:48 PM PST
100 California National Guard soldiers from the 235th Engineering Company will be heading to Afghanistan after the first of the year.

On Sunday they joined family and friends for a deployment ceremony in Santa Rosa.

Many of the citizen soldiers have been to war before. In 2004 they lost three members while in Iraq so it's even tougher for them and their families to face this deployment.

The California guardsmen from all over the state are headed for the mountains of northeastern Afghanistan. Sappers are charged with several duties including saving lives by removing roadside improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

Sunday morning the soldiers and their families attended a going away ceremony at the Santa Rosa National Guard Readiness Center.

10-year old Josh Coglizer, son of a guardsman, is worried.

"I'm sad," he told ABC7.

"No, he's not gonna get hurt. He's gonna be okay," said Karina Coglizer trying to deflect her son's fear.

"We're sad that he's going. But, he'll be in our prayers and we know he's gonna be okay," she said.

There were a few dozen mothers at the ceremony. Each one has a difficult task to perform, trying to reassure their children and sooth their fears while their fathers are away at war.

Private Thomas Delzell is dad to four young children.

"It's scary. Especially with the four kids it's going to be hard. We've talked about it and everything else," his wife Sheila said.

While Delzell's 8-year old son Mason is dreading his dad's departure, he has already scheduled his safe return.

"My dad is going to come back three months before I'm ten," he said.

Engineers leaving with the deployment are stoic about their deployment.

"This is what we do day in day out. Everybody here is here because they want to be," said Sgt. Fred Coglizer.

Many were deployed to Iraq in 2004. Their Commander-in-Chief was George W. Bush. By the time they reach Afghanistan Barack Obama will be in the Oval Office.

He's pledged more troops for that war.

"Not too sure about it. Going to give him a chance and see how it goes," said Delzell.

Sgt. Daniel Caddy added, "We will continue to do the job we signed up for and trained for. And as we say, that's above our pay grade."

The unit is first headed to Mississippi for training. Then, it is back home briefly, in time for the December holidays. But by early next year these soldiers will be on the ground and at war in Afghanistan.


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