More Guardsmen deploy - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

More Guardsmen deploy

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January 2, 2005

Albany- Heavy bags and heavy hearts. The nearly 200 South Georgia National Guardsmen waste no time packing supplies and weapons for their long journey ahead, but for most deployment day came too soon.

"She's my better half. She's half my brain. She's the smart one, so I'm going to be floundering a little bit," says Lt. Jay Kliewer.

Lt. Kliewer's family isn't only saying goodbye to him, but they are also say goodbye to Georgia and moving to closer to relatives while he's away.

"It's hard to say goodbye to all your stuff and your husband," says Kliewer's wife, Jennifer.

"I have a very serious heart condition, and so this may be the last time I ever see him," says Kliewer's mother Elin Lorelle.

Despite her illness, his mother made a special trip from California to Albany to see her son off.

"I can't be without both if them. She's got to make it," says Jennifer Kliewer.

As they let go of their husbands, many of the wives will lean on each other and try be strong for their children.

"As far as my four year old and my six year old, I don't really think they understand how long dad is going to be gone," says Shavona Wright.

This isn't the first time military service has taken Spc. Antonio Wright away from his family.

"Me and my wife have been through this before, so it just another hump and obstacle we got to get over and just get ready to come back home," he says.

"The last time we didn't have Niesha and Amber was just a baby, so it's a big difference. I have a lot of help, my church members, my mom. So we'll be all right by the grace of God," adds Wright's wife Shavona.

Just as many others will do, Shavona Wright says she'll pray for the guardsmen's safety on the battlefield.

"I am not going to cry. I'm not going to do that. I'm just going to give him a big hug and a kiss and let him know I love him, and let him know that I'll be here waiting when he returns home," Wright says.

That's a thought Wright says will give him comfort as he prepares for his mission.

Soldiers in Cordele and Valdosta also deployed Sunday. The guardsmen will spend several months at Ft. Stewart going through intense training before completing at least a year of duty in Iraq in late spring.

Albany Mayor Willie Adams says he's depending on all South Georgians to help support military families while National Guardsmen are away.

Adams spent 24 years in the military and fought in both the Vietnam and Gulf Wars. He stopped by the armory to say goodbye to the soldiers Sunday morning.

Adams is urging neighbors to reach out to the spouses and children of guardsmen who are deployed.

"Visit them sometime and just talk to them and invite them over to diner and make sure that if they need to have babysitting activities, all the little fine things that go into making sure that the spouse of the family that's left behind is made comfortable," says Adams.

The mayor also says family members can contact him through email at info@albany.ga.us if they need assistance while loved ones are away.

Posted at 5:45 PM by elaine.armstrong@walb.com