RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) - Local troops are getting ready to head over to Kuwait as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom. A medic unit of the Army Reserve will deploy from Central Virginia Wednesday.
Family members gathered at headquarters just a few hours ago to say goodbye to the men and women of the 343rd Medical Company. They'll leave for Washington State in the morning and then head to Kuwait to complete a yearlong mission, transporting injured troops to the hospital.
Every person in the room at Tuesday's farewell ceremony felt the same conflicting emotions.
One wife says of her husband, "I'm going to miss him."
"I'm actually pretty proud," one son told us.
Every one of these soldiers is also a husband or wife, mother or father, son or daughter. As they deploy to Kuwait, they leave behind loved ones, longing for a safe return.
"He's my rock. He's my world. And I have to do this alone right now, but it's worth it," said Pamela Ferman, whose husband is deploying.
Her husband Chris is one of almost 75 reserves in the ambulance company that acts as the army's first responders. They administer medical services while bringing wounded soldiers from the front lines to the hospital in Kuwait City.
U. S. Army Reserve Major General Harold Bunch told troops, "Do great things. Watch out for each other. Never forget you are the best this country has to offer and come home to your families and communities safely."
That last order is the one Joanne Brothers is focusing on as her 24-year old daughter follows a family tradition of service.
"I'm going to say my prayers. Everyone in my church is going to do the same. We'll just have to see what happens," she said.
Those soldiers spent one last night at home, saying a final goodbye to their families. Again, after training in Washington State for the next month, they'll deploy to Kuwait. The unit is expected to return in about a year.