Soldiers deploy to Iraq

PINEVILLE – About 140 National Guard soldiers who will be deployed to Iraq were sent off by hundreds of family and friends Tuesday in Pineville.

The soldiers are from the Louisiana National Guard’s 225th Engineer Brigade Headquarters and Headquarters Company from Camp Beauregard. They will train at Fort Hood, Texas before heading to Iraq.

The well-wishers packed Guinn Auditorium at Louisiana Tuesday for the send-off which was going to be the second and third tour for some of the troops. Many of the soldier’s relatives were teary-eyed and emotional but the pride they felt was quite evident.

“I couldn’t be more proud of my son and the sacrifices he’s made for our country,” said Betty Marks of Leesville. “He’s never complained and takes his duty to his country very seriously.”

Major General Bennett Landreneau told the troops, who will leave Texas in January in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, they are carrying a proud tradition in a long line of Louisiana’s citizen-soldiers who have answered the country’s call to service.

“You are the best of the best and this nation owes you a tremendous amount of gratitude,” he said. “The state of Louisiana has answered the call of our country numerous times and has always done us proud.”

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