More than 1,000 families across West Texas prepare to say goodbye to their soldiers.
Last fall, men and women with the Texas Army National Guard received orders that they would deploy to Iraq. For some it is their first time to leave their family behind to defend our country's freedoms on foreign land. However, for the Constantine family this weekend marks the third time operation Iraqi Freedom has called their soldier to duty.
Sometimes tossing the football with your dad does not last long enough. "This could be the last time," said Matthew Constantine after catching a pass from his father. Matthew is helping his dad Scott put camouflaged bags into the car. Scott's first deployment to Iraq came just days after 9/11. At the time, Matthew was seven and his sister Kensi was nine. "Right after my birthday he left, and he had like three hours notice and he left, and I didn't know what was going on," Matthew said.
"At that time he made comments to me like, ‘Will Daddy be home by the time I get married.' At the time he didn't understand the scope of things and I didn't have any answers either," said Tammorrow, Scott's wife.
More than a year later, Scott came home to his wife Tammorrow and two kids. However, his country soon called again. "The second one we had a couple of months notice and the third one was attached right to the back side of his scene one and we got about a months' notice on that," says Tammorrow.
Once Scott completes this mission, he will have served three tours in Iraq and one state side. Each time this soldier of 20 years leaves, Tammorrow says it does not get easier you just learn how to cope better. "One time he asked me why I don't cry anymore and I said because I know you are coming home," explained Tammorrow.
Matthew added, "You try not to prolong the sadness too much and it usually happens on the way home and me and my sister are asleep and you can hear my mom still crying."
Yet life must go on, but for the Constantine family sometimes it is without dad. However, thanks to recent technology, Scott says it is easier to stay connected. "The internet is terrific over there to be able to talk to somebody real time," says Scott.
"They're going to have a website for this deployment that we can go and down load videos like my 8th grade graduation," Matthew added.
However, Scott says no matter how many times he's packed his bags goodbyes don't come any easier. "The actually saying goodbye that's still tough," said Scott.
Scott will report to duty this weekend in Wellington. To honor those about to defend our country a Return to Duty: Freedom is Not Free Cookout will take place on Saturday, July 26th. The celebration will be from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center. Deploying soldiers and their families are welcome.
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