Friends and family gathered at the VFW Post 1975 in Auburn Saturday evening to honor the Army National Guard’s Auburn-based 102nd Military Police Battalion, which will be deployed to active duty this week.
Approximately 50 soldiers were mobilized into active duty on July 4 and will leave for training in Fort Bliss, Texas this week.
The group will be deployed sometime in August to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba to provide command, control and administrative supervision of the nation’s detention facility there. Their assignment is expected to last about a year.
“The hardest part is leaving my kids,” said Sgt. 1st Class Neil Brijbukhan, a detective with the New York City Police Department. “It’s leaving my family, friends and work. But we will all be back home safe and sound.”
This is the third deployment for Brijbukhan.
About 20 soldiers attended the farewell dinner held in their honor by the VFW’s Ladies Auxiliary. The night included a steak dinner, drinks and socializing.
“It’s exciting and bittersweet,” said Spc. Leon Mabra, of Long Island. “I have my family that I don’t want to leave but we do it because it is for the greater good of us all.”
For Auburn native Master Sgt. Brandon Musso, the VFW members and their support to all the soldiers and troops have been overwhelming.
“We are 100 percent ready to go,” he said. “We are excited and well trained. We are all comfortable in what we do. We have become very a very tight family and are more than ready to face this together.”
And although they will be leaving family behind they know that together they can do it.
“The Auburn community has been so supportive of us all,” said Master Sgt. Mark Sorrentino of Buffalo. “It is just so awesome how supportive the Auburn community is. And while we are gone we have each other and our families to help us all get through it. We are a tight family and we take care of each other.”
One thing common throughout the evening was well wishes and prayers for all deployed soldiers.
“We really do appreciate our troops,” said VFW Post Commander Mel Spurling. “We appreciate these men and the National Guards for all that they do to make our country free. We wish them all the best in the world and god bless them all.”