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franklin county times

115th leaves for Afghanistan

Spc. Chris Brazil held his three-month old son tightly Friday while his seven-year old son playfully wandered by his side.

Brazil was surrounded by his wife and parents, enjoying the morning together, as a family, as they walked through a crowd of hundreds who were taking time to shake hands, give hugs and snap a few photos inside the Alabama National Guard Armory in Haleyville.

It was almost the way things should be.

Except for one rather large distinction.

The family had gathered for a good-bye celebration. It was not just any farewell either.

This was one of several deployment ceremonies held throughout the area to recognize the 115th Signal Battalion as they prepare for next week’s one-year deployment to Afghanistan.

“It’s pretty hard doing this,” said Brazil, a Red Bay native who will be deployed for the second time in three years.

“Being over there before, I’m a little more prepared for what it will be like, but it’s never easy. It’s never easy leaving home and leaving your family.”

The deployment will be especially difficult for the Brazil family. For the second time in three years, Jane Brazil will have two children stationed overseas. But, at least this time her two boys will be serving together.

“It takes a lot of prayer,” said Brazil, whose other son, Sgt. Matt Brazil, will also be serving with the 115th.

“You have to depend on your church family a lot to hold you up.”

The unit was deployed to Iraq in 2004 on a rather short notice. This time, they had more than a year to prepare for what lies ahead.

“I think having a year to prepare was harder,” said Staff Sgt. Joseph Perkins, of Haleyville, who was deployed with the unit seven years ago.

“But, I think we all figured we would be called to go again since they saw that we could do the job last time.”

Friday’s ceremony in Haleyville featured several of the unit’s commanders and U.S. Rep. Robert Aderholt, as well as state and local officials who gathered with family members to wish the battalion well.

“We hear a great deal about sacrifice and service – these are concepts engraved in our national consciousness – but this is truly it,” Aderholt said.

“I believe that each of the ones called to go to a foreign land are doing more than their duty.”

About 500 members of the 115th will be deployed. They will be responsible for working and maintaining communications while stationed in Afghanistan.

Lt. Col. Steven Grigsby assured family members that his troops were prepared for the mission ahead.

“Your mission will change lives. It will save lives.”

Though the soldiers and family members left behind are confident in what they each will face over the next year, saying good-bye is never easy.

“It’s hard,” said Sgt. Matt Cummings, of Russellville, who will be deployed for the second time, but the first since becoming a father.

As he stood by his son, Drake, who was decked out in his camouflage fatigues matching dad, Cummings said this deployment will be unlike the first.

“It makes it a lot harder,” he said.



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