Guard deploys 10 soldiers to Afghanistan

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(Host) Ten members of the Vermont Army National Guard are heading to Afghanistan. They’re part of a contingent of forty Vermonters who will help train the Afghan military.

VPR’s Steve Zind reports.

(Zind) The ceremony at Norwich University in Northfield was one of the smaller deployment events the guard has held. The ten men and one woman will spend 18 months away from home. They’ll be in Afghanistan for about a year.

Sergeant Major Kevin White of Wells River is among those shipping out. He’s a commander in the 86th Brigade.

(White) “I’ve been standing here sending my soldiers overseas and it’s been kind of difficult. You know, it’s like sending your team off to play ball and you’re sitting home watching television.”

(Zind) White has been in the guard 26 years. When he joined, he says he never imagined serving overseas. Neither did his family.

(White) “My mother always made a joke that I couldn’t go unless I had a note from her.”

(Zind) Sitting with his father, Buck, White’s mother, Mary, is in a more serious mood. She says the fact that her son is shipping off to Afghanistan instead of Iraq is small comfort. It’s a difficult time for her.

(Whites) “Not good. It’s a dangerous part of the world. It’s all dangerous.”

(Zind) The soldiers will spend the next several months training at Camp Shelby in Mississippi before they’re sent to Afghanistan. About 1,200 members of the Vermont Guard are now on overseas duty.

For Vermont Public Radio, I’m Steve Zind in Northfield.

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