More Third Infantry Division soldiers are on their way to Iraq tonight. Members of the Second Brigade Combat Team left their families at Fort Stewart this morning. They'll deploy later tonight from Hunter Army Airfield. The soldiers will be gone for at least 15 months. Many families are handling the news well, knowing the deployment could have been even longer and remembering that their loved ones have a job to do.
With their bags packed, it was finally time to say goodbye. The first time wasn't easy said Staff Sergeant Joshua Stone, holding his youngest son, Jamari, and it doesn't get any easier.
"The second time was a little harder," admitted Staff Sergeant Stone. "The third time, you kind of get used to it, but you never really do."
Staying behind is more difficult for his wife, Mae, who spent nine years in the military, herself.
"It's a little easier for the kids now, but it's harder for me because I'm not there with him to see what's going on and knowing what to expect over there, it's a little harder," added Mae Young Stone.
Jessica Reade, who just got engaged to Private Nathaniel Slosson, is ready to help him however she can, right down to carrying his gear.
"I'm pretty proud," said Slosson, smiling at his petite fiancé. "She's carrying a rucksack that weighs at least as much as she does."
Both said it's hard to say goodbye.
"It's pretty hard," said Reade, "I've grown up around it in a military family, but with him, it's a little harder."
"It's hard to leave," said Slosson, "but this is what I signed up for and this is what I wanted to do. She's not too happy about it, but 15 months isn't too long, I guess."
The troops' 15 month deployments are having another effect on the Third Infantry Division. The Fourth Brigade Combat Team, that was scheduled to deploy in July, will now deploy in September instead.