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Middle Georgia community says goodbye to soldiers headed to war

Army National Guard 48th Infantry Brigade sends troops on first leg of deployment

48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team commander Col. Matthew D. Smith sends troops to Ft. Stewart to finish up training before deployment to Afghanistan.
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48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team commander Col. Matthew D. Smith sends troops to Ft. Stewart to finish up training before deployment to Afghanistan.

Soldiers in the Georgia Army National Guard 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team were given a sendoff ceremony in Macon on Monday, although most will see home again before they head to Afghanistan.

About 100 soldiers stood in formation for the ceremony at the brigade headquarters, where most of them are assigned. Other units of the brigade in communities across the state held their own sendoff ceremony Monday.

The soldiers have been in training at Fort Stewart and were home for Thanksgiving. They will head back for about another month of training to end Dec. 21, when they will get a final sendoff ceremony for the whole brigade at Fort Stewart. But nearly all of them will get to come home for Christmas and are expected to head to Afghanistan in early January.

Capt. Jacob Worthan is making his first deployment. In his day job he is a civilian attorney at Robins Air Force Base, but with the brigade he is an intelligence officer. He is leaving behind his wife, Hope, and their 1-year-old son, Alden.

Hope Worthan said the family has been taking some trips and spending a lot of time together as they brace for the long period apart. The deployment will be for nine months.

“It will be long, it will be hard but I think it’s good for him and for his career in the military,” she said as she held Alden after the ceremony. “He’s really looking forward to everything he will able to learn.”

She said she isn’t greatly worried about the dangers because his job will mostly be in a secure area. Jacon Worthan said he is looking forward to the experience and has been spending a lot of time reading about the country. He believes progress is being made there.

“I think they are improving between the Afghan government strengthening and the continuing coalition presence,” he said.

Col. Matthew Smith, brigade commander, said families that stay behind are also making a sacrifice.

“It’s easier for us to be the ones that leave,” he said.

He also noted that Monday marked the “federalization” of the unit. That means it officially become part of the federal Army.

Approximately 2,100 troops, about half of the brigade’s total, are deploying. They will primarily serve in an advise and assist role to Afghan police and soldiers.

Macon-Bibb Mayor Robert Reichert and Rotary Club of Macon President John Cole spoke at the ceremony, pledging to support the families of the troops as they are away.

“We will work alongside your families to preserve your homes and your livelihood and will await your return and your reunion,” Cole said.

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