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Pa. troop to deploy to Iraq

September 21, 2008|By KATE S. ALEXANDER

WAYNESBORO, PA. - "Be aware of your surroundings. Be polite. But never trust anyone," Army Master Sgt. Robert Gehres II said.

After three deployments to Iraq, it was this simple charge he offered his son, Spc. Robert Gehres III, who loaded the bus on Saturday to head to Mississippi to train for a yearlong deployment to Iraq.

"And come home safe," said his stepmother, Sgt. Cari Mueller.

For months, Gehres' troop, Troop C, 2nd Squadron, 104th Cavalry, has waited for Saturday to arrive.

Saturday marked the beginning of a long 15 months for Charlie Troop.

The buses idling outside the armory in Waynesboro waited to take the troop to Indiantown Gap, Pa., where it would leave for three months of training at Camp Shelby, Miss.

From there, the troop will land in Iraq for a yearlong mission in Iraq.

Unlike the celebration thrown by UAW Local 1296 in July, the ceremony on Saturday was no picnic.

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Spc. Roger Yeager Jr. said in July that his troop was ready for this mission.

Despite his confidence, Yeager could not hold back his tears on Saturday as he hugged his father goodbye.

As many soldiers emotionally reiterated their love for family and friends, Robert Gehres III jumped with excitement.

"I feel pretty upbeat right now," he said. "This is why I am in the Army."

His wife, Carrie Gehres, said she is not worried about the next few months.

"Talk to me in December when they leave for Iraq," she said.

Capt. John Wenzel, commander of Charlie Troop, could not confirm the exact mission the troop will be given on the yearlong deployment, but he assured families that their soldiers will be trained to do what needs to be done.

Saturday was the first time Waynesboro sent its own to fight in the current campaign and the town showed the soldiers their due respect.

"You are true heroes in every sense of the word," Rep. Todd Rock, R-Franklin, said to the troop. "You will be in our thoughts and our prayers until your safe return."

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