Word on the Street

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Category: Washington National Guard

Aug.
19th

A farewell to state’s Guardsmen

National Guardsmen and their guests ate pulled-pork sandwiches and sipped lemonade at an Auburn park Tuesday.

Kids filled two inflatable playgrounds. Politicians delivered speeches and posed for photos.

And in the final hours before sending off their soldiers for a year, family members chatted about life with their loved ones serving overseas.

"It’s a little scary," said Jenny Anderson, wife of Spc. Randall Anderson. "It’s a little stressful. But it’s kind of exciting at the same time. It’s cool that he’s going to serve his country. The kids consider him their hero."

It is families like the Andersons whom the commander of the 81st Brigade Combat Team calls "the unsung heroes of this deployment."

Similar farewell ceremonies were held at 11 other sites across the state Tuesday, as the 2,500-member brigade embarks today on one last training in Wisconsin before deploying to Iraq. The soldiers already spent 28 days at the Yakima Training Center in July and August.

Randall Anderson took his family on a dinner cruise and a camping trip to make the most of his 10 days of leave. He just wanted to spend time with his wife and three children.

Now comes the difficult part for Anderson, a 33-year-old military policeman from Puyallup.

"I’m not nervous when it comes to doing my job," he said. "I’m just not looking forward to leaving my family behind."

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Aug.
19th

The leave wasn’t a celebration for everyone

Spc. Edward Mears sat atop the hill during the ceremony and silently watched his twin sons play in the grass. Deployment hasn’t been much to celebrate for his household.


"It’s tough," he said. "It’s tough on me. It’s tough on them. It’s tough on my wife. It’s tough on my daughter. These last 10 days have been like a breeze. They just went so fast."


Mears, a 36-year-old Tacoma resident, served with the 81st Brigade during its first deployment to Iraq in 2004-05. This time around is more difficult, he said, because his 4-year-old sons and 2-year-old daughter

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Aug.
19th

Bittersweet celebration

Randall Anderson took his family on a dinner cruise and a camping trip to make the most of his 10 days of pre-deployment leave.


That small slice of normalcy has ended for Anderson and others in the 81st Brigade Combat Team of the Washington National Guard. Now comes the difficult part. For Anderson, a 33-year-old specialist from Puyallup, that doesn’t necessarily mean entering a war zone.


"I’m not nervous when it comes to doing my job," he said. "I’m just not looking forward to leaving my family behind."


Anderson spent his last hours before deployment with

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Aug.
19th

Short turnaround for Olympia resident

Hunter Ellis joined the Washington National Guard last September. The 19-year-old Olympia resident felt the call of service – his family has a history in the military – and graduated from basic training on July 31.


Still, he wasn’t certain if he would be able to join the 81st Brigade in time for its deployment – until Monday.


"Yesterday was the first day with my unit," he said. "And I’m excited. I want to go and do my job. It’s what I was trained to do."

Aug.
19th

A relaxed atmopshere

Col. Ronald Kapral sat at the wooden picnic table and flipped through white index cards. The man who will lead the 81st Brigade into war was minutes away from addressing more than 700 soldiers at Auburn’s Game Farm Park, and he was trying at the last minute to nail his speech.


"I don’t even know why I write all this down," he said. "I usually just get up there and ad-lib it."


That might be more appropriate for the ceremony, which seems relaxed by military standards. Families and soldiers are milling about the park, taking cover from the

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Aug.
19th

Politicians turn out for farewell ceremony

Terry Harder and Steven Cook took some time off the campaign trail to welcome visitors to today’s farewell ceremony in Auburn.


The Republicans are running for seats in the state House of Representatives out of the 29th District. But on Tuesday afternoon, they stood at the entrance to Game Farm Park and held American flags.


"We want to let them know that the public does care about them," Harder said. "We want them to know that their families and the public support them. And that’s more important than campaigning today."


And

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