Kentucky National Guard Soldiers Head To Iraq

Originally published on June 6, 2011 3:36 pm
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RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

American troops are scheduled to leave Iraq by the end of the year. That will require taking apart much of what the U.S. military put in place. So National Guard troops from Kentucky, among others, are heading into Iraq to prepare for the drawdown. Lisa Autry of member station WKYU in Bowling Green joined guard members for their farewells.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

LISA AUTRY: It's the Kentucky National Guard's largest overseas deployment since World War II.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

AUTRY: Let us pray. O Lord our God, what a wonderful sacrifice to help a nation to continue to work towards a free society.

AUTRY: Most of these soldiers are returning to a familiar place. Ebony Sutton hugs her brother, who's making his second deployment to Iraq. For Sutton, her baby brother's absence doesn't get any easier.

MONTAGNE: I mean, you just hope they make it back. You know, we try to be supportive because that's what he likes to do and he's proud of it.

AUTRY: You could say the same for Private First Class Joseph Royal, who's 20 years old and making his first overseas deployment.

P: I was apprehensive at first, but the closer it gets, I'm getting the more excited.

AUTRY: What do you want your sons to know as they leave?

MONTAGNE: Just know that I'm proud of them, the country's proud of them, and to, you know, just serve honorably like I know they will.

AUTRY: Ebony Sutton, who's sending her brother off, is worried about this mission, given the recent U.S. killing of Osama bin Laden.

MONTAGNE: I worry because of what just happened. I don't think it's going to be less dangerous. I think it could be more complicated because of the circumstances now.

AUTRY: Oh say, does that star-spangled banner yet wave...

AUTRY: For NPR News, I'm Lisa Autry.

AUTRY: (Singing) ...and the home of the brave.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHEERING AND APPLAUSE)

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "THE CAISSONS GO MARCHING ALONG")

MONTAGNE: This is NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.