Local

Troops honored at farewell ceremony in Clovis

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Hundreds of Army National Guard soldiers based in the central valley are preparing for a year-long deployment to Iraq.

Sunday afternoon, they and their families were honored with a farewell ceremony in Clovis.

Members of the 40th combat aviation brigade will leave Fresno on Wednesday and travel to Fort Hood, Texas for training before heading to Iraq.

Several of them have never been away from their families for such a long period of time, which makes their mission even more difficult. "Trust me. It's tough, very tough, but we're going to get through it."

Lisa Prado of Fresno has never been away from her husband, Sergeant Kinidio Prado for more than a few months at a time. That will all change Wednesday when he leaves for a year-long deployment to Iraq.

Sergeant Prado says he's trying to make the most of his time before saying good bye to his wife and five kids.

"I've been spending a lot of time at home with family and eating a lot definitely. Lots of turkey, lots of tamales, just over-indulging myself," Sgt. Kinidio Prado said.

On Sunday, Sergeant Prado and his soldiers were honored with a farewell ceremony at Clovis Memorial Hall.

Once in Iraq, they will join thousands of other Army National Guard soldiers in support of Operation New Dawn. The group will provide aviation services.

Colonel Mitchell Medigovich is in charge of the year-long operation. "And, we'll be overseeing the, all of the rotary wing operations there, so when I talk about medi-vac, tac, lift, cargo, assault&.all of those missions will be performed by the men and women of the 40th aviation brigade."

Before Sunday's ceremony, various groups offered support services to soldiers and their families&..including hand-made supply boxes crafted by children.

And while these men and women say they appreciate the outpouring of support&.their biggest motivation for the upcoming mission comes from their families&&who will be waiting for them when they come back home.

"My kids will help me through this, get through this, but I know he'll be home safe and soon&they all will," Lisa Prado said.

The soldiers will train at Fort Hood for about 8 weeks. They will depart to Iraq sometime in January.

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Tags:
clovis, fresno county, iraq, local, shannon handy
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