The biggest single group from the largest military base in the United States, Fort Hood, Texas, is shipping out. The Pentagon sent deployment orders to 12,000 troops this morning. Those soldiers and others will join or support the massive American buildup in Kuwait, including roughly 16,000 Third Infantry Division soldiers from Hinesville, Georgia. It's a mixed feeling from the soldiers and their neighbors. Pride they've been called for a job, but sadness to be so far from home.
Crystal Dykes brought her daycare students to Hinesville's Martin Luther King Day parade. With her husband deployed to Kuwait, she says routine helps her cope when he's gone.
"It's very important to stay involved, cause it keeps you busy," she said. "Not at home thinking about what could happen, might happen. It keeps you positive if your involved."
Thousands more soldiers will leave Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield this week for training and possible combat with Iraq Troops say the trip comes with mixed emotions.
"The tone around garrison is very upbeat," said Maj. Bill Hatch, a chaplain. "The soldiers are excited to be able to go out. At the same time, the married ones are hesitant about leaving spouses and family behind."
Even with most of the troops gone, remaining soldiers say Fort Stewart will hardly be a ghost town.
"There are some that will still be here," said medic Capt. Sonya Allen. "Reservists that have been called up to back up the ones that will be gone. So there will still be a lot of military and families here in the area."
And no matter how far away from home those troops may be, they're always on the minds of everyone at home. Roughly 4,000 Third Infantry Division soldiers are set to leave the Coastal Empire for Kuwait this week. Since Desert Storm, Fort Stewart troops have been training in Kuwait for as much as six months at a time. Families here are just hoping their loved ones can make their rotation just like that and come home.