Families Say Goodbye as 4th Brigade Soldiers Deploy to Iraq

Mothers, fathers, wives and children. Hundreds of people said goodbye to their soldiers at Fort Stewart today. Members of the 3rd Infantry Division's 4th Brigade are heading to Iraq.

More than 300 soldiers with the 64th Armored Division are headed to Baghdad.  Twenty-two members of the 6th Battalion, 8th Calvary also packed their bags and left for Iraq today.

They'll be gone for more than a year. "Last time it was 12 months, this time it's 15 months." said Nicole Jordan.

Nicole and her husband Spc. Jeremy Jordan have been through a deployment once before. But that didn't make this goodbye any easier. "A bunch of emotions, just glad the time is finally here to go so he can get back soon," Nicole said. "But sad to see him go."

Many soldiers and family members got out their cameras to capture these final moments. Group photos brought smiles to their faces. Family photos will be cherished for months to come.

Sgt. Travis Miller's family drove down from Tennessee to Hinesville this week. Even though it's still October, they cooked him a big Thanksgiving meal.

Miller said they had it all, "Turkey, ham, stuffing, deviled eggs." Miller's aunt Wanda Sowards said they didn't want him to miss out on a family tradition. "We always have Thanksgiving dinner together," she said.

For other soldiers a final meal from Burger King is what they were craving.

But most were just longing for more time together. "I'm going to miss my wife," said Pvt. Douglas Walker.

Walker and his wife Rene just got married in May. This is his first deployment. How is she feeling? "Upset, trying not to cry," Rene said.

But when the bus pulled up to take these soldiers away, no one bothered holding back the tears.

Even though the drenching rain washed away some of those tears, it could not take away the pain of watching the ones they love go off to war.

What will keep them going is their friends and family and counting down the days until their loved ones return.

Reported by: Michelle Paynter, mpaynter@wtoc.com