Anxiety, excitement, fear and pride could be used to describe the emotions that emerged during the 50th Infantry Brigade Combat Team’s (IBCT) Farewell Celebration held at Fort Dix on Saturday, June 14.
Family, friends and supporters gathered on Doughboy Field to honor the Soldiers deploying to Iraq.
Alexis, the 10-year old daughter of 2-113th Infantry commander Lt. Col. Mark Piterski, sang the national anthem. As she finished, a trio of F-16 fighter jets from the 177th Fighter Wing roared overhead.
“Each and every Soldier on this parade field is an American hero not because of this deployment,” said Maj. Gen. Glenn K. Rieth, the Adjutant General of New Jersey, “but (because) you raised your right hand in an all-volunteer army to make a difference and protect our way of life.”
Governor Jon S. Corzine spoke of the sacrifices the Soldiers have endured and focused on the sacrifices the families have made to support the Soldiers.
“Most New Jerseyans understand that this sacrifice is not yours alone that it is your loved ones,” said Corzine. “To each we express our gratitude for the sacrifice that you make to make sure our troops are supported abroad.”
Corzine then gave his word that the families of the Soldiers would be taken care of while they were deployed.
“It is our responsibility to stand with you while you’re away serving us and our pledge is to be certain and clear that it will be there,” he said.
After the ceremony the families were able to spend the rest of the day with the Soldiers. Many families had different feelings about the deployment.
“I have no worries. I’m glad for him. I think this is the best thing for him,” said retired drill sergeant David Lipscomb, father of Pfc. Brian Lipscomb. “I’m confident in the training he received,” he added.
“I’m very proud of him and I support him in everything he does,” said Linda Menew, mother of Pfc. Shane Weddle. “I’m very positive and I hope he returns home safe,” she added.
Besides family many supporters ranging from volunteers to Vietnam veterans also came to show their support.
“The Army will take care of the Soldiers while they are over there, but it is our responsibility to take care of them when they return,” said Jim Ernest, a Vietnam veteran.
The supporters and families of the 50th IBCT may have different emotions about the mission the 50th IBCT will face, but one thing is certain: there is no lack of support from the people of New Jersey.
|(c) 2008 NJ Department of Military and Veterans Affairs|