Local News

With Tears and Ceremony, Bragg Sends Another Group of Troops to Iraq

Posted May 17, 2007
Updated May 18, 2007

— As Congress and the White House argue over how to fund the war in Iraq, another 300 soldiers left Fort Bragg on Thursday for the war zone.

Any deployment can be tough, but some of the men and women were going back for a third tour of duty, which can make saying goodbye even tougher.

Many of the children at Thursday’s send off at Pope Air Force Base weren't born when the war began. Others are just beginning to learn about the life of their parents.

Maj. Shawn Hawkins held his first baby, Elizabeth, 3 months old, as he waited to board a plane for his third trip to the region.

“Two years total time, and this will make it 3 ½,” he said as he cradled Elizabeth on his lap.

Preparing to deploy is also a day of ceremony.

The flag of the 507th Corps Support Group was furled and wrapped. It will make the trip this time because the unit’s commander, Brig. Gen. Kevin Leonard, is among the soldiers deployed.

Leonard knows the sadness deployment can bring, but he is convinced his troops are prepared.

“I didn't see anyone here today with their head down, discouraged, feeling sorry for themselves. Every one of these soldiers is self-actualized, ready to go do their mission, take care of themselves, take care of the mission and take care of each other,” Leonard said.

“I joined the army to do as I'm told, and I’ll always do and continue to do the fight. Whenever it’s time to go home, then that’s the time to go home,” said Jonathan Turner, a member of the 507th.

Turner's wife, Christina, a former Marine, is pregnant. She and her two children will wait patiently and pray for her husband's safety everyday.

“Sometimes I'm OK, and then a second later, I'm bawling my eyes out. But, the sooner he gets there, the sooner he can get back home,” Christina Turner said.

The majority of the troops are headed to Baghdad, though close to 50 will serve in Kuwait.


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  • Longterm May 19, 2007

    Wish we had this type of reporting in the Washington, DC. area. These Brave men and women need all the support we can give. I Pray that all return safe and sound to their loved ones. My thoughts and prayers are with them all and hope for an end to this war as soon as possible....

  • packandcanesfan May 18, 2007

    God Speed all. Return home to your loved ones safe and sound. And thanks!!

  • Voice of Reason 23 May 18, 2007

    My deepest thanks to the troops!

    Too bad the greed of the current administration sees fit to send you into the meatgrinder and to waste your lives. Hopefully the noble Democrats can force Bush to end this war and bring you back home safely.

  • doowhatchulike May 18, 2007

    SimpleGurlNC: PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE wake up.

  • SimpleGurlNC May 18, 2007

    PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE stop sending our troops and bring back the ones that's already there. Until then God Bless our Troops.

  • nowon_yuno May 18, 2007

    To all my brothers and sisters,
    Good luck, take care of each other and come home safe. I'm proud of you all.

  • Doctor Dataclerk May 18, 2007

    The best soldiers in all of the world. God bless them everyone and their families back home. When the world lets you down, American soldiers stand up. We don't do enough to support them and let them know how much we appreciate them and their families.

  • newmommy06 May 18, 2007

    You guys and gals make us so proud! Thank you for serving our country! Come home soon!

  • ObamaMustGo aka NCcarguy May 18, 2007

    Proud! to be an American, and PROUD to support the President, and our TROOPS!!! You guys are truly heroes!God bless you all on this important mission, praying for your safe return!

  • All American May 18, 2007

    My thoughts are prayers go out to all....