600 local troops deploying to Afghanistan

August 21, 2008 5:04:29 PM PDT
More soldiers from Illinois are preparing to head overseas. More than 600 Illinois National Guard troops will be deployed to Afghanistan this weekend. It's a difficult time for many families, getting children ready for school while mom or dad gets ready to ship overseas.

National Guard Private John Anthony Junkins in Bravo Company C, 1st Battalion, 178th Infantry was picked up by his wife, Katherine, and four children at the Elgin armory. The Bolingbrook construction supervisor will be leaving Sunday to help build institutions and infrastructure in Afghanistan.

"It will probably be just as difficult for them as it is for me. It's not going to be entirely easy switching from a civilian career to the military pay," said John Junkins.

"We're going to work together as a family to keep everything together while he's gone," said Katherine Junkins

Junkins' children range in age from 3 years old to 12 years old. Tian will be starting at a new school this year.

"I'm going to miss my dad and it's going to be kind of hard for a new school and people are going to ask you, 'So what does your dad do?' 'Well, he's kind of gone right now,'" said Tian Junkins

Other families showed up at the armory to pick up their loved ones.

Specialist Randy Shullaw said he would miss his girlfriend and his dog the most.

"I think it will hit me when he's finally gone," said Erica Evans, Shullaw's girlfriend.

This will be the second combat deployment for Sgt. First Class Jose Gerrero of Grayslake. He says he is proud to be serving his country. But it is tough to leave his wife and five children.

"They know that they're as proud of their dad as I am and doing what we have to do," said Guerrero.

On Thursday, the soldiers completed training before deploying to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

"I'm going to eat sushi and put down a couple of cold ones and enjoy the rest of my freedom," said Sgt. Patrick Michael Carrol.

"I'm a single young guy. So I'm going to go and toss back a couple and enjoy myself the next couple of days," said Staff Sgt. Steve Wolf.

More than 2,700 soldiers are preparing for the largest call-up since World War II. They say they are ready and this is what they have been trained for.


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