For the first time since World War II, the 142nd Infantry of the National Guard will deploy from West Texas to a combat zone. Members of the Lubbock city council and other community leaders don't plan on letting those troops leave without a show of appreciation for their service. They are asking the community to flood the Civic Center on Monday for an official activation ceremony.
At a press conference Wednesday morning, Lubbock Mayor Mac McDougal explained, "About a week and a half ago, I got a call telling me this division was being called up and it felt like we ought to do something to support our troops."
The city council didn't waste any time taking action. The Mayor announced they will invite the entire community to the Civic Center for a proper send-off on Monday at 6 p.m. McDougal says, "The military is going to allow us to be part of their activation ceremony and I think it's important that people in Lubbock realize that this hits home. We're talking 700 soldiers from West Texas and 200 from Lubbock and we need to let the troops know we support them."
Major Reginald Jackson of the Texas Army National Guard says, "I have never seen a unit get this type of support from the community and to know these soldiers are going to protect the rights of everyone here. It means a lot to know that people really care about what we're doing."
The 200 troops from Lubbock will first go to Fort Hood for three months of training before they head to Iraq. They leave town next Friday, but hopefully not before the community shows them just how much they're appreciated. "I think the best thing we can do for the troops is for the fire marshall to say 'We're shutting the doors. There's too many people, no more.' and let the troops know we support them," says McDougal. "Both the guys and girls going are ready to do their job. They're feeling even more patriotic knowing how much this means and they're just real upbeat," says Major Jackson.
The public send-off starts promptly Monday at 6 p.m. in the Civic Center Banquet Hall. It will include a recorded message from Coach Bob Knight and a performance by Jay Boy Adams. The event is expected to last about an hour, then the soldiers and their families will have a private meal. The troops leave for Fort Hood next Friday before heading on to Iraq.
In the meantime, a support group has been set up to help the families the soldiers will leave behind. To make a donation, checks can be mailed to
The "Family Readiness Group"
301 East Regis Street
Lubbock, TX 79403
For more information call: (806) 765-6882 ext 370 . They are also accepting donations for the cost of the soldier's meals at Monday's ceremony.