RALEIGH, N.C. — For the next month, thousands of men and women with North Carolina's National Guard will deploy to Iraq. Among them, Sgt. Fletcher Sargent with the 30th Separate Brigade. For him and his young wife, Paige, the call to duty could mean a one-year separation.
WRAL first met the sergeant in January on the training grounds of Fort Polk, La. His unit is part of the 30th Separate Brigade that will join coalition forces in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
"There's always going to be some fears, a little wondering, but you just got to put that behind you and try to focus on the mission," Fletcher said.
"You always hope that it's not going to happen, but it's one of those things that comes along and you have to do your duty," Paige said.
The Sargents were married just one year when they found out Fletcher's National Guard unit would be deployed.
"It's just something we're going to have to get through, and we'll pick up when he gets back," Paige said.
The 30th Brigade got a huge send-off last week. The military will be Fletcher's life at least for the next year. His final year at North Carolina State University will have to wait.
"You have to put everything on hold from your relationship with your wife to your job to your school plans. Everything just stops and you pick up a second life," Fletcher said.
Fletcher said he and his wife have been spending quite a bit of time together. Paige Sargent said she will rely on her family and a network of military support groups while her husband is overseas. The brigade could be deployed by the end of the month.