Families say goodbye as Dothan National Guard troops deploy for year

Families say goodbye as Dothan National Guard troops deploy for year
(Source: WSFA 12 News)
(Source: WSFA 12 News)

DOTHAN, AL (WSFA) - The Dothan based 186th engineer company has been called to serve.

The roughly 160 service members said goodbye to their loved ones Monday at Dothan's Regional Airport. The unit was escorted by the Houston County Sheriff's Office and Wiregrass Patriot Guard Riders.

"Most of us are veterans and we wanted it done when we deployed, but we didn't have it in those days. To see the looks on the men's faces," said Bill Seyler, District Captain.

The gates were lined at the airport, loved one on one side, troopers on the other for their final goodbye. For Sonja West, this isn't her first deployment send-off, but this time she's sending both her sons overseas. Her oldest son, Zane West,  serves as a supply sergeant and left Friday. Her youngest son, Gethe West, left Monday.

The goodbyes for families don't get easier with each deployment.

"I can remember getting on my knees every morning and praying them home," said Sonja West.

Sergeant Gethe West leaves behind his pregnant wife and says the time away from the family is tough for everyone.

"To me it's harder being here and not having us here," Sergeant Gethe West.

Although her boys won't physically be here, Sonja keeps a reminder of them wherever she goes. During their last deployment, it was a toy soldier in her pocket. This time it's a ring with a cross and the Lord's prayer.

"I'm going to wear this ring even if it turns green. I'm going to wear it until they both put their feet back on our land," said Sonja.

The troops flew to Fort Bliss, Texas for training before they head to Kuwait. They're expected to be overseas for a year, according to family members.

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