Local News

Raleigh MP Unit Leaves for Iraq Duty

Posted May 20, 2007 6:54 p.m. EDT
Updated May 20, 2007 8:36 p.m. EDT

— There was another round of good-byes for military families Sunday, this time in Raleigh, where an Army Reserve unit is being called to active duty.

Members of the 535th Military Police Battalion will be deployed to Iraq.

For 145 soldiers in the 535th, they were saying farewell for at least a year. There were hugs and tears, a scene carried out often as units deploy and all too familiar for military families.

“I feel a little sad because my family is staying here. But I am soldier so I have to support and defend our United States constitution,” said Juan Pablo Leon.

Their duty is something these soldiers take very seriously, regardless of the specific assignment.

“We understand we're just gonna be helping out other battalions and supporting the mission,” Spc. Andrew White said.

The 535th is the latest group from North Carolina to head into the war zone.

Thursday, 300 soldiers from Fort Bragg said goodbye and boarded aircraft at Pope Air Force Base for the Middle East. Some were headed for their third tour of duty.

One way to understand the deployment is that it will help someone else.

“Obviously, our resources are certainly stretched, but they've got a job to do. And whether you agree with the policy or not, we've got a lot of men overseas that need support, and they need to come home and see their families,” said Paul White, who had come to say goodbye to his son.

For those left behind faced with a long wait, trying to stay calm and patient is their oreder of the day.

“You just try to stick with your routine as much as possibe and take it one day at a time,” said Jennifer White, Andrews mother.

The soldiers of the 535th were told to be prepared to be deployed for 388 days, or longer.