Long Island soldiers head off to war

More than 100 soldiers took part in the Army National Guard?s send-off ceremony Saturday, an event held in attempt to boost the troops' morale and ease their families' concerns. The soldiers sent off

News 12 Staff

Jun 2, 2008, 4:18 PM

Updated 5,885 days ago

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More than 100 soldiers took part in the Army National Guard?s send-off ceremony Saturday, an event held in attempt to boost the troops' morale and ease their families' concerns.
The soldiers sent off are all members of the 3rd-142nd Assault Helicopter Battalion. They are all Long Island residents who will soon be heading to Iraq, leaving their families and loved ones behind.
Sgt. Jose Rodriguez has a son who is only 3 months old ? a son he won?t be able to see for at least a year. Battalion Commander Al Ricci, in charge of 400 soldiers and 30 Blackhawk helicopters, says he understands how difficult is can be for a soldier to leave his or her family. Ricci is the father of 3-month-old twins.
?When family members come up to me and say, ?Make sure you take care of our soldiers,? I know what has to be done,? Ricci says. ?I don?t take that lightly. I?m in the same situation?we all have to come back to our families.?
Part of the send-off ceremony was family activities. One father showed his son how to pilot a Blackhawk. Some soldiers expressed excitement for their upcoming journey, while others, like Rodriguez, just want to stay strong enough to come home to their children.
The soldiers will leave Long Island on June 6 to head to Oklahoma for training before departing for Iraq.


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