‘Very, very emotional’

Fairmont soldier Steve Garrett, a member of the Army National Guard 201st Field Artillery Regiment, embraces his daughter, 7-year-old Caitlyn, and says good-bye to his wife, Crystal, in the parking lot of the Woody Williams National Guard Armory Thursday evening during the last of several send-offs held for the soldiers of the local unit.

A total of 463 local Army National Guard members are now well on their way to serving their country following an emotional send-off Thursday evening.

All day Thursday, it poured down rain in Fairmont. But just minutes before the about 150 soldiers from the last two groups of the 201st Field Artillery Regiment kissed their family members and other loved ones good-bye that evening and boarded busses to head to the North Central West Virginia Airport for departure to their training headquarters in Wisconsin, the sun came out for a few minutes to shine down on them.

Some of the soldiers looked up at the small patch of blue sky, hoping to see a rainbow, just before returning back to formation in the parking lot of the Woody Williams Armory and awaiting their roll calls onto the busses.

And as each soldier was called individually by name, many ran quickly back to their loved ones, some embracing their young, crying children, others giving their significant others long, passionate kisses, with tears streaming down their eyes.

Needless to say, it was a heart-wrenching scene, as this was the last time these men and women would be seeing the people they will be leaving behind for the next year as they endure an atypical security mission in Kuwait.

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