Approximately 100 soldiers
with the XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg left for Afghanistan Wednesday.
They expect their deployment to last until the end of the year. The soldiers
with be training, advising and assisting Afghan security forces and
coordinating NATO operations.
nervous, just unsure of what's coming up," commented Cpl. Andrew Westerhold
who was leaving on his first deployment.
He and the other soldiers
gathered at the Green Ramp pack shed Wednesday afternoon to spend two final
hours with family and friends before parting for deploying. Westerhold was
saying goodbye to his young children and his wife who is expecting a baby in
"Yeah this will be
the first one I have to miss," Westerhold said.
His wife Christine knows
challenges are ahead, but she is expecting lots of support from family. She
said the hard part will be explaining the time apart to her children.
"They don't quite
understand where's Daddy and when Daddy's coming back," she said. "If I give
them a time limit it's like, ‘that's tomorrow, right? No, no, it's not
Some soldiers were feeling
optimistic on Wednesday though. There is a feeling that this could be the last
major deployment to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom, and in some way that eases the pain of going
"I think that's everybody's
hope in here is that this is the last one, the last big one at least that we'll
be gone for a long time," explained WC3 Byron Morales. "I'm sure there will be
little ones here and there but not the current length that we're projected to
The soldiers who left
Wednesday followed another wave of 150 XVIII Airborne Corps soldiers who left
on deployment Sunday night.
The 4th Brigade
Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division has also deployed soldiers
this week. About 200 soldiers left Sunday night, and 150 left Wednesday. The 4th
Brigade Combat team soldiers will be a security force in Afghanistan.
Brandon is a North Carolina native and UNC alum who lives in Fayetteville, and covers Cumberland County and the Sandhills. Returning to North Carolina to work as a journalist is a dream come true for Brandon.More>>