By Staff Sgt. A.J. Coyne
FREDERICKSBURG, Va. – It was an emotional scene Jan. 7 as a throng of friends, family members, and other loved ones gathered to say goodbye to nearly 200 Virginia National Guard Soldiers activated in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Approximately 177 troops from the Fredericksburg-based Headquarters Company, 116th Brigade Troops Battalion and A Company, 116th Brigade Troops Battalion, and the Leesburg/Manassas-based C Co., 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team are being ordered to active federal service for 18 months.
Following a brief formation and ceremony at the Fredericksburg armory, which featured Secretary of Public Safety John Marshall, Maj. Gen. Robert Newman, the Adjutant General of Virginia, and local mayors, the Soldiers exchanged hugs and kisses with their loved ones before boarding buses bound for Fort Dix, N.J. From there they will prepare for overseas deployment.
The Guardsmen are being ordered to active federal service for 18 months and the Secretary of the Army may extend this period up to a total of 24 months based on operational needs or other requirements of the service.