CLEVELAND, Tenn - More than 100 Tennessee Army National Guard soldiers from the 252nd Military Police Company departed Cleveland, Tenn., this morning bound for the Middle East by way of New Jersey.
Family and friends surrounded them and bid them farewell as they enjoyed a hot breakfast at the National Guard Armory on Dalton Pike.
"It's a bittersweet moment," said Capt. Chris Martin, the company commander. "The company is ready and excited to take on their mission, but it is an emotional time for them and their families."
Several soldiers expressed the same feelings: They were ready to do their job as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, but would miss the loved ones they left behind.
"We do this in support of our troops," said Dena Grant, secretary of the local Family Readiness Group, who organized the farewell breakfast for the company.
The 252nd Military Police Company's mission will ultimately see their deployment in Kuwait for a year, said Martinson. Prior to that, they will undergo training at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey.
Paul Leach is based in Cleveland. Email him at email@example.com.