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Sam Penrod ReportingMore Utah troops are off to serve America on active duty. The 222nd Field Artillery Battalion of the Utah National Guard left from the Cedar City airport this morning. The troops are on their way to Camp Shelby, Mississippi before deployment somewhere in the Middle East. It's the 222nd's second activation.
In 2003 the troops spent six months in Fort Lewis, Washington. This battalion represents almost all of southern Utah and at least as far north as Nephi, where the principal of Juab Junior High School received an emotional send-off. He's also a part of the 222nd. Today was his last day at school for a while.
It was a big sendoff today for Randon Lawrence; the school packed the auditorium for a special patriotic assembly before their principal is deployed to Iraq.
For the last two years, Randon Lawrence has been the principal to the 300 students at Juab Jr. High. After today's assembly, many students with tears in their eyes lined up to give Mr. Lawrence a hug. Students say they are learning a lot about patriotism and freedom after learning Mr. Lawrence had been called up to active duty in the National Guard.
Camee Coombs, Student, Juab Junior High: “It takes a lot of bravery and sacrifice. He is sacrificing his family. Not many people leave their families to go to war, so he is doing a lot for a lot of people.”
Randon Lawrence, Principal, Juab Junior High: “It was more than I ever could have hoped for, dreamed of. Kids here are awesome and I truly love them.”
Both his wife and children were also at today's special assembly at the school. And students presented Mr. Lawrence with a big banner that all of them at the school signed. Yellow ribbons have been placed all over the school, both inside and out in honor of Mr. Lawrence, and the school plans to leave them up until he returns.
The 222nd will be on active duty for 18 months, so all of the seventh and eighth graders in the junior high right now will be onto high school before Mr. Lawrence gets back.