KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – Fifteen Army Reserve soldiers packed their bags as they got ready to deploy for Kuwait for the next nine months.
“The tightness in your chest, the nervousness that you guys experience in the pit of your stomachs, it’s something that you will never forget,” said Major Matt Marshall.
Major Marshall of the 415th Engineers at the Army Reserve Center in Knoxville knew what the soldiers in his unit were feeling at Friday morning’s deployment ceremony. From Knoxville, the unit will head to pre-mobilization training. Next month, they will depart for Kuwait where the Engineers will run base camp operations for “Operation Enduring Freedom.”
“I have no doubt that we’re going to come back from a successful mission,” said Marshall.
On the other side of that mission are the family members who will be waiting at home.
“It won’t be real until we drop him off tomorrow,” said Major Marshall’s wife, Tisha Marshall. “They’re doing great, they’re proud of their dad, they know he’s doing something important,” she said of how the couple’s kids were responding to the deployment.
Tisha Marshall will also be the leader of the Family Readiness Group for the unit, to help others who have someone deploying.
“It tugs at our heartstrings and it makes us really, really know that we are giving up something very special,” said Crystal Lynn Sharp. This is not her first time feeling these emotions, her husband has deployed four other times. “I really, really appreciate him going over there, ya know, it’s really important for our freedoms here.”
Then there’s Brianna Dickerson, who just got back from her own deployment in Kuwait. Dickerson is part of the Georgia Army National Guard and was at Friday morning’s ceremony to not only sing the National Anthem, but also to say bye to her dad.
“It means a lot to me that we both can share that experience,” said Dickerson. “It’s kind of awesome, not many people can do that.”
She is thankful for the bond they share, while also already starting a countdown until her dad comes home. “My dad’s emotional, I’m emotional,” Dickerson began. “We’re just ready for him to get back.”
It’s a common theme no matter who you talk to in the room, including for the man leading them all.
“Nine months will pass and then you’re going to get to experience another feeling that I myself have felt in the past — and that’s homecoming,” said Major Marshall.