The soldiers are with the 230th Sustainment Brigade of the Tennessee National Guard.
Sgt. Matthew Cain, 28, works at International Paper in Cleveland, but in the Army, he is a light-wheel vehicle mechanic. This is his second deployment. His first was in 2007-08 with the 181st Field Artillery Battalion. He is married to Misty Cain. They have five children ranging in age from 2 to 12.
“The worst part is today, saying the goodbyes,” he said. “Once you get over there, you kind of put your mind somewhere else and do your job.”
1st Lt. Christopher Lawson is departing on his first deployment.
“I’m excited to do the mission, but I don’t want to leave my family,” he said. “I don’t want to leave them behind, but I know I have a mission to do and complete. It’s mixed emotions. You want to leave and complete your mission but you don’t want to leave your family.”
His family includes his wife, Amanda, and children Ethan, 10, Olivia, 8, and Aidan, 6.
James Ledford deployed with the 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment. His wife, Jeannie, met him the week after he returned home.
“No, I’m not,” Jeannie replied when asked if she was handling the situation OK. “I’ve been breaking down a lot. I’m just trying not to really think about what’s happening here today.”
James has a 7-year-old son, Ethan, who stayed at home because he couldn’t stand to see his dad leave, while Jonas, 2, was at the armory along with James’ parents, James and Mary Ledford of Deer Lodge, and Jeanie’s parents, Willis and Martha Holt.
About 30 members of Peerless Road Church of God of Prophecy were also there to show their support for Lawson and Ledford.
The brigade departed with elements in Chattanooga and Millington on the first leg of a deployment in support of Operation New Dawn.
The sustainment brigade, headquartered in Chattanooga, is designed to provide Command and Control for combat service and combat service support units. It can be adjusted in size to support anywhere from one to 10 Brigade combat teams.
A Sustainment Brigade has a joint capability that allows the Army to better manage the flow of logistics into the Area of Operations and provide support to other services for common logistics, including such areas as fuel, ammunition, medical supplies and repair parts for wheeled vehicles. It is designed to operate independently in a theater of operations.
The deployment brings to more than 20,000 the number of Tennessee National Guard soldiers and airmen deployed since Sept. 11, 2001.