Delaware National Guard readies for Kuwait deployment [video]

 (Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

(Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

A crowd of several hundred family, friends and state leaders gathered at the National Guard’s facility in New Castle to say farewell.

Nearly 70 members of the Delaware Army National Guard 3-238th General Support Aviation Battalion are headed to Kuwait for a 12 month active-duty tour.  Before heading overseas, they’ll travel to Fort Hood in Texas to train for flying in the Kuwaiti environment.

This will be the third deployment for the unit within the last ten years.  Captain Tom Emerson who leads the unit was also on the last trip the troops made to Afghanistan three years ago.  At that time, he was leaving his pregnant wife behind.  This time, he’ll leave his life and their two children.

“It will be difficult,” he says, but adds that he’s got a strong family support system to help.  “The Delaware National Guard family extends well beyond just our immediate family members.”

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It will be the first deployment for 27 members of the unit, 17 will be on their second deployment, and for 19 members, this trip marks their third deployment since 2004.  Capt. Emerson says that mission experience will help.  “Being number three, you’re somewhat used to it now, but at the same time, each deployment is different and there’s different circumstances here at home that you’re leaving.”

After their four to six week training in Texas, the unit will head to Kuwait.  Their mission includes performing aerial movement of troops, supplies and equipment.  They’ll be primarily moving troops while overseas.

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