Pa. Nat'l Guard troops head off to Kuwait


They were deployed in a ceremony Friday morning in Northeast Philadelphia.

The deployment ceremony was held at the Pa. National Guard Armory on Southampton Road.

Senior National Guard officials were on hand along with lots of loved ones, who were reluctant to see the soldiers depart.

Major General Wesley Craig reminded the soldiers how crucial their assignment would be.

"In Kuwait is a large series of logistical bases that support our on-going operations in Afghanistan," he told them. "Your job is to keep them secure."

Many of the family members who gathered Friday had said goodbye before. But that didn't make it any easier when the time came.

"Any time you leave your family it's difficult," said Sergeant Joe Suarez.

"It'll be hard, but we'll be strong and we'll stay in there," said Catherine Clauhs. "We'll see him in a year."

Catherine's husband, Specialist Andrew Claus, admitted he's a little anxious.

"The anticipation is getting to us," he said. "But we're excited to get over there, excited to do our mission and get our year over with and come home."

4-year-old Zahaad Williams held his flag tightly, as he said goodbye to his dad.

Megan Jasionis was eager to tell us about all the support she daughter Lucy would have while Sgt. Nicholas Jasionis is away.

"Her preschool has been putting together packages to send over to the troops," she said.

Mom tried to be brave, while little Lucy couldn't stop kissing Dad.

And Special Agent Matthew Urutia also held back the tears, thinking of those he's leaving behind.

"It's the only thing I got to keep me going," he said. "That's it."

But for Lieutenant Michael Poekert, it was a day to pop the question to his longtime love, Kristen Verdi.

"We've been together four years, and I couldn't possibly go away without asking her," he told us.

She said yes, and then all the service members were off.

They head first to Camp Shelby, Mississippi for Combat Mobilization Training before joining more than a thousand other soldiers from the 55th Heavy Brigade in Kuwait.

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