Nearly a thousand people filled chairs in the parking lot outside the Lubbock Civic Center Monday evening for a show of appreciation to our local troops. That's because about 700 national guard soldiers of the 2nd battalion 142nd infantry division are saying goodbye to their loved ones in West Texas and headed for Iraq. About 200 of those soldiers are from the Lubbock area. So, city officials planned that big send off at the Civic Center so those guardsmen would know they leave Lubbock with a lot of support and well wishes.
Before the cadence, and the marching, and the order to stand at ease, there was time to think. "Emotionally, it's going to be a little hard," said Medic Jeremy Sedeno, leaving behind his civilian family for his army one. "We're basically a family, very tight, and that's the way it should be," he said.
For the next year and a half, this camouflage family will live 7,000 miles away. "They're going to war!" said Congressman Randy Neugebauer. He toured Iraq shortly after taking office. "They're protecting and defending America, they're also liberating Iraq," he said.
"What's the T-shirt say?" we asked. "It says 'Operation Iraqi Freedom,'" said Specialist David Verdine. He's leaving behind a wife and three children.
"You would think it would get easier the second time, and it doesn't," said Battalion Commander Jeff Breor, leaving behind two of his own, his wife getting ready to count the days. "Start marking the months off, that's the best advice I can give," she said.
For the next 18 months, this family of 200 different last names, of Sedeno, and Verdine, and Breor, will simply be known as American.