N.J. troops deployed for Iraq

June 14, 2008 8:37:48 PM PDT
It was a sad start of the Father's Day weekend for hundreds of New Jersey families. Members of the National Guard boarded planes Saturday that will eventually take them to Iraq. This year, Father's Day will be a little lonely for these Dads. Today at Fort Dix, families and friends said goodbye to the New Jersey National Guard Troops of the 50th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. They are leaving for training in Texas and then will head to Iraq.

For many of them it is their second tour of duty.

Sgt. 1st class David Torez says, "For us right now the amount of support we're getting, it puts everything in perspective for what we're doing."

It is a perspective sometimes difficult for a 10-year-old little girl to see. Zaniya Lewis and her three siblings made are saying goodbye to their Dad today. Although they'll be able to talk to him over the phone and see him through webcams, for Zaniya it's just not the same.

"In real life like seeing him at home and hugging him stuff like that it's going to be kind of sad because I'm not going to see him 'til 6th grade, and I'm in 4th right now," says Zaniya.

Tim Lewis of Newark tells Action News, "He's trying to do what he has to do but he still has a family he wants to maintain. So we're hoping he does his mission and return home."

The ceremony featured the New Jersey Army National Guard Parachute team, a F16 Flyover, unfurling of the Brigade's colors and a Pass and Review of the troops. Governor John Corzine was also there to send the young men and women off to duty.

Although these brave soldiers understand their mission and take pride in their dedication to serve this country, they also understand the sacrifice that goes along with it.

Sgt. Charles Johnson says, "Just the fact that I'm not going to see the people I love for a year, that's the long and short of it really."