October 9, 2008

266th MPs say goodbye as Iraq deployment begins

By Sgt. Andrew H. Owen
Virginia Guard Public Affairs

1st Lt. Matthew Stuhr holds his girlfriend Eliza Deland close before getting on the bus to depart for Fort Dix. Stuhr is platoon leader of third platoon, 266th Military Police Company. (Photo by Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

MANASSAS, Va. — Friends and family members gathered at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater Washington Oct. 8 to bid farewell to the Soldiers of the 266th Military Police Company before they left for Fort Dix, N.J., where they will conduct mobilization training and a subsequent tour of Iraq to assist training the Iraqi Police.

It was a very emotional day for the Manassas-based Soldiers and their loved ones. Many in attendance had tears in their eyes as they embraced for what will most likely be one of the last times this year. The 266th will be training in the U.S. until early December, and will then spend the next nine months or more overseas.

During the last few months the Soldiers of the 266th have been conducting training at Fort Pickett to prepare for their upcoming mission, and now stand ready to move on to the next phase of training.

Spc. Stacey McLanahan of Manassas and her son tristen, 20 months, enjoy a juice drink together before his mommy gets ready to deploy. Tristen will be taken care of by his grandmother while Stacey is overseas. (Photo by Sgt. Andrew H. Owen, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

“I know I can count on these Soldiers whether its standing tall in Hampton Roads during hurricane relief, or whether its training the Iraqi police force as they’re about to do,” said Maj. Gen. Robert B. Newman, Jr., Adjutant General of Virginia. “They will do a magnificent job and they will represent the

United States Army and the Virginia National Guard in an excellent manner.”

Although the Soldiers will be gone from their families for several months during this deployment they can rest assured that their loved ones will be well looked after.

“The Virginia Guard works hard to support family during periods of deployment. We will stand with you. We will do all we can,” said Governor Tim Kaine. “We can never, as a state, change the conditions of war, but we do have complete control over how we treat families, how we treat veterans, and how we treat others who are here on our soil.”

For many of the Soldiers of the 266th this is not their first deployment, and like so many other Soldiers of the National Guard they recognize this as just another opportunity to serve their country.

“It will be hard, but I’ve done it before,” said Sgt. Christopher Owen, a member of the 266th and a veteran of a previous tour to Iraq.

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