The Alabama Army National Guard continues to answer the Nation's call. Today, some 160 Soldiers from the 166th Engineer Company from Winfield and Vernon left for Camp Atterbury, Ind. for a brief training period before deploying to Afghanistan.
Friends and family gathered at the Winfield armory yesterday to say farewell to the brave men and women of the 166th Engineer Company.
The Soldiers of the 166th had a large group of family and friends present, but all their smiles and laughter could not overcome the heavy hearts of those present.
Before the ceremony began, Ethan Frye, 19, of Florence, Ala., performed "Army of One," a song he wrote for his brother, Pfc. Bobby Frye, and the other Soldiers of the 166th Engineer Company. It was Ethan's way of showing how much he cares for his brother and a way to say "thank you" to the Soldiers of the 166th.
"I have only one simple message," said Maj. Lee Thompson, commander of the 166th. "Thank you! Thank you to the soldiers, thank you to the families, and thank you for all your support."
"Being a soldier is about making a sacrifice," Thompson said as he addressed the soldiers and family and friends of the 166th. "You all will play a direct part in making the world a little bit better,"
Maj. Gen. Abner C. Blalock, state adjutant general, and Brig. Gen. Sheryl E. Gordon, commander of the 62nd Troop Command, also spoke about sacrifice.
"This is not an easy call," said Blalock. "You've been called to help fight a war against an enemy who wishes to ensure that our flag flies no more."
Both Blalock and Gordon noted that the families and friends of the 166th are also making a sacrifice and that the Alabama Army National Guard will be there to answer their call for help.
"I urge each and every one of you to take advantage of the opportunities and programs available to help you through these trying times," Gordon said.
For Gordon, this is the first unit under her command to deploy since she took command of the 62nd Troop Command last month.
Winfield Mayor Wayne Silas, Tuscaloosa Veteran's Affairs representative Michael Culver, Blue Star Salute representative retired Lt. Col. Glenn Nivens, members of the local Red Cross chapter, and many others showed their support by handing out gifts bags, gold coins, yellow crosses, books, and flags.