Farewell Wishes As Troops Head to War

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Jacksboro, Campbell County (WVLT) - About 50 soldiers from East Tennessee are in Middle Tennessee are getting set to go to Iraq.

Lots of hugs and kisses as members of the 1175th left the Barton Siler Memorial Armory in Campbell County this morning

They'll be at Fort Bragg for a month, before heading to Iraq.

Volunteer TV's Jim Freeman was there early this morning.

This is a tough time for more than just their families; no doubt the families of these 1175th soldiers will miss them deeply.

But so will the folks at the Farmer's Co-Op, the Advanced Auto Parts, and dozens of other businesses, restaurants and churches.

Because to them, these soldiers are family too.

Empty shoes are being left behind in the workplace, too. Ken Lay and Jason Gresham are truck drivers.

Sharon Tackett is the Human Resources Manager at Advance Auto Parts' Andersonville distribution center, "We'll have additional people that will pick-up the slack for these two individuals. Their jobs are here when they return back just as it was before."

Kenneth Miller, Junior's, job at the LaFollette Co-op will be there when he returns.

Mike Welch is the branch manager of the Claiborne Farmers' Co-op in LaFollette and tells us, "Yesterday when he bid us all farewell, it was all everyone of us could do to keep from crying. I mean it gets to you."

Co-workers feel the void, too, and hope for the best.

Kay King worked with Kenneth Miller at the LaFollette Co-op, "We've enjoyed working with him, and we hope he returns to us safely. And hope he has a good time over there but comes back home safe."

Students also feel the gaps.

"I work at Tennessee School for the Deaf. I'm a supervisor at a residential cottage, and I really enjoy it. I love those children," says Sergeant Christina Jones.

And then there are those "volunteer" jobs that get caught in the crunch like with Shannon Marlowe and James Roy.

"Well, we're always hurting for volunteers, and we got two good responders that respond to a lot of calls. So, we're going to feel the pinch," says Pinecrest Volunteer Fire Chief Jerry Moat.

Hurting for volunteers or paid workers pales in comparison to the those hurting hearts.

"Good luck on your wedding and get someone to make a DVD for me so I can watch it over there and cry and all that good stuff," Jones tells her daughter.

Specialist Jeff Sheehy introduces us to his wife, Sherry. "And this is my wife Sherry of 23 almost 23 years the longest we've been."

There were many scenes this morning like Jeff and Sherry's where words were just not needed.

Some of the veterans we spoke with all agreed that today is usually the toughest leg of the mission.

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