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155th takes first steps towards Iraq deployment

As soldiers prepared to head up to Camp Shelby before shipping off overseas for service Monday afternoon, Poplarville and other county residents lined up to show their support of local military men and women who serve in the Bravo Company 1-155th Combined Arms Battalion.

Janice Smith, chairperson of the Family Readiness Group in Poplarville, said they began to organize the send-off event about two weeks prior to today’s event. Smith’s husband is in the 1-155th CAB.

The event, held at Poplarville City Park, drew a large crowd carrying American flags and wearing red, white and blue.

Supporters lined the streets and waited for the 1-155th CAB to march down Mississippi Highway 26. Once the 1-155th CAB made it to the park, the soldiers broke formation and had five minutes to find their friends and family members to say their last goodbye before they head to Camp Shelby.

At the event soldiers in uniform held their children, kissed their spouses and stood to take pictures with friends and family. When their time was up, they lined up in formation and proceeded down the highway.

Bravo Company 1-155th CAB 1st Sgt. Doug Mitchell said that after the Company ships out from Camp Shelby, it will head to Iraq where the unit has been told an estimated 12-month tour awaits them. While Mitchell would not go into specifics, he said the unit’s mission abroad would be to help the country establish an Iraqi government.

Smith said Poplarville was not the only location holding an event honoring soldiers about to go overseas. She said the 1-155th CAB consists of men and women from all over the state.

Anyone interested in learning more about the Family Readiness Group can visit the group’s website at http://standfastnow.com/.

The Rotary Club of Poplarville and North Pearl River County Ministerial Association have signed covenants to provide support to soldiers and families during deployment. Smith said she thanks the City of Poplarville for its assistance with planning the event held on Monday.