OWENSBORO, Ky. (WEHT) More than 150 members of the Kentucky National Guard are on their way right now to the Middle East.
The 206th Engineer Battalion, based in Owensboro, today left the national guard armory for their mission.
Before they boarded the buses taking them to their flight, they saw their families one more time.
“Emotional. Just saying goodbye and we’ve never had to do that before. He’s never been deployed. This is first deployment. This is the longest we’ve been apart from each other,” says Venetia Jackson, whose boyfriend is deploying from Owensboro.
“The closer it gets, the more nervous we got,” adds Scott and Missy Butler. They not only saw their son board these buses, they also escorted him to the airport as part of the Patriot Guard Riders.
“I cried. I’m very excited and I’m honored. It’s been my honor to escort these soldiers to watch them fly out. It’s really nice to see these patriotic people to see them out,” Butler says.
The battalion will handle construction missions in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. Their trip from the armory to the airport, filled with well wishers, waving flags, and cheering them on as they boarded the first of two flights.
Pat McHugh drove more than five hours from Maysville, Kentucky to see her niece, Sgt. Madison Simpson.
“Reality hit me,” McHugh says. “She’s really leaving, even though I knew. Seeing her get on the plane, it just hits you in the gut.”
She says her family was torn up about not seeing her for a year, but her niece told her she’ll be safe.
“It just hurts to see her go so far away. I’ll be worried about her. She doesn’t seem to be afraid. She thinks it will be an exciting experience,” says McHugh. “I just wish them all the best. God speed to all of them.”
Family members we talked with say they’ll use Skype and other social media tools to keep in touch with them while they’re out of the country.
(This story was originally published on July 26, 2019)