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Guard members treated to Sox game before deployment

August 12, 2008 9:36:55 PM PDT
Three thousand Illinois National Guard members will head overseas soon in the state's largest deployment of its kind since World War II.So on Tuesday, the White Sox were part of a sendoff at the Cell.

Hundreds of Guard members and their families were treated to a night out.

The national anthem had a little extra meaning for many of the National Guard members. Most were just days or weeks away from heading off to Afghanistan, where they will spend the next year on active duty, separated from their family, friends and careers. It is a huge sacrifice for the soldiers and their families.

"It is a strain on my family, especially my wife. I have a 2-year-old right now, so it is going to be difficult for her not see her father around," said Lt. Halton Reeves, Illinois Army National Guard.

For many, it is the second or third tour of duty. They know the drill. But that makes it no easier. That's why the organization Operation Home Front arranged for this night the White Sox offered tickets for what they hope will be a memorable time with family before they leave.

"When the soldiers are deployed, and they are defending us and our country, the families will tune in to a White Sox game and cherish that moment," said Christine O'Reilly, Chicago White Sox.

"We play together and fight together. That is how we are connected," said Sgt. Russ Santorelli, Illinois Army National Guard.

For some, it was a boys' night out. Reeves brought his father, brother and son. For others it was a chance to spend time with the wife and kids. Rich Lozano's two kids were seeing their first major league game. It's a memory of time with their father that they may not be able to repeat for some time.

"They have been looking forward to it and talking about it all week, a good chance for family time before I leave," said 1st Sgt. Rich Lozano, Illinois Army National Guard.


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