AUBURN — For many of the friends, family members, residents and veterans who gathered in front of city hall Tuesday, it wasn’t a time to say “Goodbye” as much as “See you later” to the group of local soldiers beginning a deployment to Iraq.
That was true for George Dutcher, an Auburn resident who was on hand to send off his 25-year-old son, Shawn Dutcher, for his first tour of duty.
Dutcher said he was happy to see a “good bunch of people” come out to see the 15 soldiers head out from the Auburn National Guard Armory on South Street. He said he expects a good bunch to be present when they all come back, too.
“I think it’s outstanding,” Dutcher said. “Auburn should be doing this all the time.”
The local outfit will be part of approximately 115 soldiers of the 105th Military Police Company of the New York Army National Guard who will go to northern Iraq in the spring. According to a release from the state Division of Military and Naval Affairs, the unit expects to conduct “a broad range of missions from convoy and dignitary security to area and route security, as well as training Iraqi police forces.”
The local soldiers left the Auburn facility on a bus with a local police escort and headed to their mobilization station in Niagara Falls. According to the state Division of Military and Naval Affairs, the unit will undergo training in mission-specific tasks at Fort Bliss in Texas before heading to Iraq.
The group gathered on South Street at the request of Auburn Mayor Michael Quill. After a short delay, the bus stopped in front of city hall and was greeted with applause.
Some family members boosted up their children for a goodbye hug. Others shook soldiers’ hands and thanked them for their service. And some held signs of appreciation and American flags.
Dale Karlik held up a sign with “God Be With You” written on it. Karlik said her future son-in-law, William DeTomaso, is a member of the unit. However, he is not heading out because of an injury sustained during training.
Karlik still showed up with DeTomaso’s mother, Beth DeTomaso, to support his friends as they deploy. They don’t know if and when he will follow them, Beth DeTomaso said.
“I think God is going to be with these guys,” Karlik said.
According to the state Division of Military and Naval Affairs, this will be the second deployment to Iraq for the 105th MP Company, which consists of soldiers from Auburn, Buffalo, Rochester and Utica. The unit has undergone training for this deployment at Fort Drum, according to the military affairs division.
Representatives with the Vietnam Veterans of Cayuga County were also on hand to send off the troops.
President Rick Spriggs said the group showed up to give support to the community’s future veterans. And he shared George Dutcher’s sentiments when he said he expects to see these soldiers again.
“I want to welcome the same group back when they return,” Spriggs said.
Staff writer Christopher Caskey can be reached at 282-2282 or email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter at CitizenCaskey