Friends and family prepare to send more Miss. soldiers to Iraq

Published 3:43 pm Tuesday, April 1, 2008

150 members of Mississippi National Guard’s 890th Engineer Battalion were scheduled to leave for a one-year deployment to Iraq Monday.

This will be the unit’s second Operation Iraqi Freedom deployment and the first time Specialist Kevin Gilbert has gone to Iraq.

During a ceremony this weekend, he told WLOX-TV, that it’s tough on his family but “they’re all understanding and supportive.”

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This will be Sergeant Dennis O’Neill’s second deployment and says he wants to return to Iraq to finish his work.

Maj. Gen. Harold Cross, of Flowood, shared a very simple, yet important way to show servicemen and women the love and support they need.

“We’re going to say two of the most underused words in the English language but perhaps the most meaningful, and that’s thank you. We thank you for what you’ve done, thank you for what you will do and thank you for giving us an example and template of heroism,” Cross told the crowd at the ceremony.

Cross, 61, announced his resignation March 14 from the Mississippi National Guard.

He had been adjutant general since 2004. In that role, he oversaw the deployment of thousands of troops to Iraq, Afghanistan and Kosovo and helped maintain order after Hurricane Katrina.

Gov. Haley Barbour has chosen 63-year-old retired Brig. Gen. William “Bill” Freeman Jr. of Newton as the new adjutant general of the Mississippi National Guard, pending confirmation by the state Senate.