`It's something we have to do'

May 26, 2007|By Matthew Dolan | Matthew Dolan,sun reporter

Another wave of hundreds of Maryland's citizen-soldiers bade farewell to loved ones yesterday, bound for training and then deployment in Iraq for the next year.

The send-off of 640 state National Guardsmen represents about half of the roughly 1,300 called up last month for combat duty overseas. The mobilization order roughly quadruples the number of guardsmen from the state who will be deployed overseas.

The deployment is drawn from the Guard's famed 1st Battalion, 175th Infantry Regiment, one of the oldest regiments in the Army. It became known as the Maryland Line in 1776 after George Washington credited the units that "held the line" against British forces.

Units from the regiment tapped today include the Headquarters and Headquarters Company in Dundalk and companies based in Frederick, White Oak, Towson and Elkton.

At the National Guard Armory in Dundalk this morning, Spc. Harold Kendricks, 46, of Baltimore, shared last hugs with his wife and two children before boarding the bus heading toward training in New Jersey.

"It's our mission. It's something we have to do," said Kendricks, who works as a security guard for Johns Hopkins Hospital. His 18-year-old son, Arlen, joked that with his dad away, he'd get to use the family's two cars. But his daughter, 11-year-old Arlene, appeared more subdued, saying, "I just don't want him to go."

The departing soldiers will train at Fort Dix, N.J., for about two months before deploying overseas for the remaining 10 months of their call-up, officials said.

matthew.dolan@baltsun.com

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