Ill. National Guardsmen say goodbye

August 23, 2008 11:13:50 PM PDT
More than 100 members of the Illinois Guard said goodbye to loved ones during a deployment ceremony Saturday. Meantime, a local marine came home to a new family. There were tears shed at two military ceremonies Saturday.

The formality of the occasion betrays the emotion that filled the room. Husbands and fathers, mothers, daughters and friends prepared for a nearly year-long deployment in Afghanistan.

Sergeant First Class Monroe will leave behind a wife and four kids.

"It doesn't get any easier but it's my last one. I'm heading 20 years on the way back so I'm looking forward to finishing my job and retiring," said Monroe.

"It's hard. It's very hard. We all miss him. We're going to really miss him," said Monroe's wife Charita Monroe in tears.

Emotions were on the other end of the spectrum as 1,100 marines, members of the 224 weapons company, returned. Two of their brothers in battle died in Iraq. Both were from the Milwaukee area.

But during the 11-month deployment, babies were also born. Sergeant Raymundo Galarza, U.S. Marine Corp, got to hold his little girl for the first time.

"I was really nervous, actually. But I'm just happy to be here and it's overwhelming," said Galarza.

Members of the Illinois National Guard's 178th infantry which had the ceremony on the South Side will leave for training Sunday so they do have one last night with family. Then they are on to Afghanistan where they'll work on the country's infrastructure as well as other projects to support the Afghan government.


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