BARTONVILLE, Ill., — Hundreds of soldiers from Illinois are preparing to deploy to Afghanistan.
Monday afternoon, families and friends came together at Limestone High School for a mobilization ceremony.
About 400 soldiers with Company A 1st Battalion 178th Regiment are being deployed this week; 100 of those soldiers reside in Central Illinois.
It was an emotional day filled with both sadness and excitement.
“The ceremony has just made it really real, I [kind of] ignored it like it wasn’t coming up until about the last week,” Wife of Sergeant Jared McDermet, Amanda McDermet said.
After extensive training, these soldiers are ready to hit the ground running. It’s been 10 years since this unit last deployed and it’s the largest single-unit mobilization they’ve had since about 2008.
Lieutenant Colonel Brad Leighton said the unit has trained hard, noting that they took part in a month-long training exercise in Louisiana last summer, that they passed with “flying colors.”
Staff Sergeant Jared McDermet said he’s very excited to do the job he’s trained for up until this point.
“We’re excited to really come out here and prepare for our deployment to Afghanistan and to celebrate all those who sacrifice in silence,” Captain Michael Halles said.
Pain struck many during the mobilization ceremony as many realized they must leave their families behind, but they remain dedicated knowing that they’re fighting for their country.
“A lot of the family members, the mothers the fathers the spouses and children they make that silent sacrifice to enable their soldiers to protect our freedoms while they keep everything right at home,” Captain Halles said.
“I have so much pride for this country and to have this many people turn out and this many family members to support us as we move forward I guess its a very emotional day,” Sergeant McDermet said.
Amanda McDermet said this feeling is unreal and that with six children, it’s hard.
However, she commends her husband and the entire unit for their selflessness and willingness to serve.
“We don’t do this job for money, we do this job because we have a heart and we want to protect others and we want to protect our great nation that we have and keep the freedoms that we have,” Sergeant McDermet said.
As McDermet marches toward his destiny, he has a message for his family.
“I love them very much and dad’s going to do everything that he can to protect his men and [his self] and return home,” Sergeant McDermet said.