A send off ceremony today will bid farewell to about 100 Army National Guard soldiers based in Rhinelander and Tomahawk.
The 951st Sapper Company will be mobilizing for about a year to serve in Afghanistan. Major Jackie Guthrie, Wisconsin National Guard Deputy Director of Public Affairs, says the ceremony is a chance to thank the soldiers for their service. "It's always important for the soldiers to see how much their families and friends in their community support not only what they do . . . but to show how much they care about the family members left behind."
Guthrie concedes it can be an emotional time. "It's awful hard for us to leave our families behind and it makes our job a lot easier when we know that theres community members and organizations back home that are reaching out to our family members and taking care of their needs," she says.
The unit previously was deployed for 14 months to Iraq in 2003 when it was known as Company C of the 724th engineer battalion. The ceremony begins at 11:00 at Rhinelander High School. Senior National Guard officials will be joined by Lieutenant Governor Barbara Lawton.