Hundreds Bid Farewell as Utah Guardsmen Depart

Hundreds Bid Farewell as Utah Guardsmen Depart

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News Specialist Ed Yeates Reporting (Camp Williams, KSL News) -- Hundreds of family and friends gathered at Point of the Mountain this morning to bid farewell to Utah National Guardsmen on their way to the Middle East.

The callup could keep the Utah soldiers away from their homes for up to a year or more.

Though the building was large, there was hardly enough room to move around. Hundreds were here to say goodbye.

Two brothers - D.J. and John Sorenson - are both leaving their wives Valerie and Melissa. For D.J., the callup came on his wedding day.

"This has just brought us closer together. We're all going to watch each other's back and help each other out," he says.

And for the mother, Carolyn Sorensen: "We're very glad for my sons. We think this is what they should do and we're very glad they have each other," she says.

Parents, spouses, children, even nieces and nephews were here. Some were too small to know. But for others, "my uncle is going to war."

Angela Wilcox will deliver her second child in March, but Robert, her husband, won't be here to see it happen.

"I cried for three days," she says. "It's one of those things that's hard, you know. Sometimes it will hit you and you'll realize what's happening.

Since that fateful September 11th, up to 78 percent of the Utah National Guard has been called up off and on for the past 16 months.

For this 489th Engineering Utilities Detachment and the 141st Military Intelligence/Linguistics Battalion, today's departure for the Gulf Region could last a year or more.

IN all, 85 soldiers left from Camp Williams this morning, promptly at 10 a.m. in two buses that will take them to Fort Carson.

It's bittersweet emotions for families - but patriotism in this arena at least continues to run high.

"That long legacy of Guardsmen that stretches back 360 years now, nearly 370, as you turn aside and put the plough down and pick up the rifle and go to defend your country," says Major General Brian Tarbet.

Back then it was the plough. Now, it's more complicated, with employers who have to keep their jobs open until they return.

Before this is all over, between 1,000 and 2,000 Utah Guardsmen could be deployed to the Gulf.

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