There will be a deployment ceremony Friday at San Jose's National Guard Armory on Hedding Street in San Jose. The mayor will be there for the send-off along with military dignitaries. Thursday though, the soldiers were next door to the armory, going though the routine of packing up and preparing to ship out. They are alone with their thoughts, and many of those focus on family they are leaving behind.
PFC Mauricio Quintanilla was born and raised in San Francisco. He now lives in Richmond. This will be his first deployment, but he is not thinking about conditions in Iraq. He is thinking about his son born on New Year's Day. PFC Quintanilla will be taking a video of Jaylen, safely stored on his cell phone. He says "It's hard knowing I'll be missing his first steps, his first words, but I know his mother is a great woman and she'll be taking care of him."
Sgt Christina Bojaski of San Jose is blessed to know she doesn't need to take a picture of her husband to feel close to him. He is in the same unit and deploying with her. Sgt. Bojaski says "My first deployment I had to leave without him because I had to deploy on my own and it was pretty hard. Actually it was very hard." What does Robert Bojaski think about serving in Iraq with his wife? He calls it "comforting" to know that she is so close.
The Members of the 469th expect to serve a year in Iraq. During that time, the dynamics of U.S. troop involvement will change. The Obama administration has said combat troops will be out of Iraq by August 2010, but up to 50,000 U.S. troops will remain in a training capacity until December 2011.