There were a lot of tears today, as 175 Delaware Army National Guardsmen said goodbye to their families.
More than 1,000 family members, friends and supporters sent off the 153rd Military Police Company, who’s deploying to Afghanistan for a 12-month tour of duty. They will relieve Montana’s 44th Military Police Company.
“All of you should know that you have the gratitude of 900-thousand people here in Delaware and 300-million people across this country for your service to your country and for your service to your state,” said Gov. Jack Markell, D-Del.
Once in Kandahar, the 153rd will teach their Afghan counterparts how to set up roadside checkpoints, secure building projects and conduct walking patrols.
“We had an extensive year-plus of training. We’re ready to go. It’s pretty much just watch everybody’s back. We have great situational awareness with the group, we’re excited,” said 1st Lt. Patrick Marzouca.
“I’m proud of him, it’s hard to let him go, but everybody’s supportive and praying for him,” said mom Ginnie Marzouca of her only child.
This marks the second deployment for Sgt. Jake Lindell. His wife Denise says it never gets easier, especially now that her two children, ages 6 and 2, are getting older.
“It makes it harder when they understand that daddy has to go, but we’ll do the best that we can and we just pray that they all come home safely and we love every one of ’em.”
Dr. Jill Biden, whose son, Attorney General Beau Biden, serves in the Delaware Army National Guard, made a special appearance at today’s sendoff.
“As you spend the several next months overseas, working in close cooperation with the Afghan police force, you will be performing an incredibly important mission,” said Dr. Biden. “I am humbled by your courage, your dignity and your sense of patriotism and commitment. And all of you continue to embody the best of our nation and we could not be more proud.”
2013 is slated to be a busy year for the Delaware Army National Guard. Two more deployments are scheduled for later this year, sending more Delawareans overseas than any other year since 9/11.