Thomasville troops deploy for Iraq - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Thomasville troops deploy for Iraq

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April 15, 2003

Ft. Benning-- An early morning departure to Kuwait leaves many South Georgia families emotional Tuesday. The 1148th Transportation Group from Thomasville got orders to leave for Kuwait around 1:00AM Tuesday morning.

Two-year-old Donald Hammond, Junior tries to get his dad's attention. "That's daddy's little boy," say his mom, Deborah. "He wants to go to work with him."

This time little Donald can't go. His dad is heading to Kuwait. : "It's hard, the little ones don't understand," said Deborah. "My 18-year-old wouldn't do it, she couldn't tell him goodbye."

This wasn't the first goodbye. On February 7th, other troops left Thomasville. Specialist Donald Hammond, Senior was sent with the 1148th Transportation Group to Fort Benning. Two months later, another deployment.

"Really confusing, not having him, having to come up here, real hard," said Deborah.

Another soldier we've been following is Specialist Theresa Araujo of Albany. “It’s very emotional because this time it was a final goodbye, we knew it this time,” she said.

Araujo’s husband, Daniel, has been taking care of their four children while she's been away. This deployment was so emotional that she sent them home before she got on the bus. “It’s very sad. First time ever done it. I had to pull myself together. I’m a soldier, so I have to be strong," she said.

These soldiers adopt one another. Sgt. Robert Grant: “When she's down, I pick her up, and when I'm down, she picks me up. We are a team. We're all family."

They pull together, including packing heavy luggage into a big truck. The soldiers carry the rucksacks, ready for the field-- 65 pounds worth of stuff.

Training taught these soldiers how to fight and protect themselves. But the training didn't teach them how to leave families on the home front. Araujo got on the bus alone, but before she left she told me to tell her family that she loves them.

The Hammonds smothered their soldier with hugs and kisses. Even though their little one may not understand the word deployment, he knows his dad is leaving for a while.

No word on how long the soldiers will be in Kuwait. More than 60 trucks of the group left on a Navy ship two weeks ago.

posted at 2:55PM by dave.miller@walb.com