Families Say Goodbye as Last Third ID Unit Deploys

Thousands of our friends and neighbors are serving far from home in Iraq right now. We caught up with the latest group to go, soldiers and spouses bracing for a year apart.

The parking lot of the Special Troops Battalion was full of rucksacks and emotional goodbyes. Sgt. Johnathon Maijalan is part of the most lethal Army in the world but he was a teddy bear with his two-year-old. He was one of 50 soldiers who knew this was the day they'd say goodbye.

"We've been waiting for it, wanting to get it over with, so all we have to concentrate on is coming home," he said.

Knowing their soldiers will be gone at least a year, the farewell brings a flood of emotions.  "Honestly? Yeah, I'm sad and I'm scared, but more than any of that I'm proud," said Johnathon's wife, Anna.

For some families, this is the first real time apart. But they aren't panicked. "I was actually in the Air Force ten years and a single parent then, so I can take care of myself," said Army spose Nancy Kas. "We'll be fine."

"She runs the house pretty much anyway. She's sole commander already," said her husband, Staff Sgt. Derek Kas.

Known as the Eyes of the Marne, these soldiers operate remote control surveillance planes that will track any attack from the skies.

"There's a lot of pride," said Pfc. Scott Hernstrom. "I'm anxious to get over there. Not nervous yet, but I'm sure I will be. Just ready."

After hugs that must have seemed way too short, soldiers got the last call to roll. Loved ones got the glimpse that will have to last them until they welcome them back home.

The other half of the unit is already in Iraq.

Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com