Families have mixed emotions about departures

Published 12:00 am Monday, July 18, 2005

DEMOPOLIS-Even if the day had been under clear blue skies it would have been a rainy day for family and friends of the Demopolis National Guard unit’s 167th Engineer Company.

The 75 guardsmen departed shortly before 4 p.m. Friday afternoon on their way to a destination filled with civil unrest. Before departing they were able to spend quality time with their families for one more hour.

During the final minutes there was laughter and tears, but through it all there was the anxiousness to see their soldiers return home.

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Longtime guardsman John Hammack said after over 30 years in service he was fully prepared to serve one more time.

“I am ready for it,” Hammack said. “This is something I signed up for and something that has to be done. I have been doing this for 32 years so I know what it’s all about.”

Hammack said being away from his family will be tough, but he hoped to see them soon.

“I will definitely miss my family,” Hammack said. “I will keep in touch as best I can. I look forward to getting back to them.”

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Hammack’s wife Ann said she will think about him constantly while he is away. She said she also plans to make sure he gets a little taste of home while deployed.

“He is going to be in my prayers until he gets home,” Ann said. “I will send him letters and care packages and baked goods along the way to.”

Ann said she could not personally keep John safe while he was overseas, but could refer to a higher power to do so for her.

“We will keep them in our prayers,” Ann said. “We know our boys will be out there doing it for us.”

Guardsman Dennis Brown said leaving his family was also the toughest part of the journey. Brown said he would think about them constantly and looked forward to coming home to them.

“I will miss them a lot,” Brown said. “That is the biggest thing. I will really miss my family a lot.”

Brown’s wife Perah, said she was confident her husband would be safe while deployed. She said she knew he would be home soon and looked forward to their reunion.

“I think he will be okay,” Perah said. “I’m not worried because I know he will be alright.”

However, she said it would be tough to see him go. Perah said she would miss him tremendously, but tried to focus on his homecoming.

“We will miss him while he is gone,” Perah said. “We will miss him and we look forward to him coming home.”