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Petraeus testifies as troops leave home

April 6, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Nearly two hundred soldiers from Los Alamitos bid farewell to loved ones Sunday before they are deployed to Iraq to help keep the peace.Members of the California National Guard's 40th Military Police Company, 170 soldiers in all, fell in line for their goodbye at the Joint Forces Training Base in Los Alamitos.

Click in the Eyewitness News Story Window above to watch Wendy Burch's report from the Joint Forces Training Base

"The Iraqi people want to fight their own battles, and they're willing to fight. We just have to teach them how to win. And that's what you're doing," a commanding officer said to the unit.

They'll be working alongside Iraqi police officers helping build the infrastructure Iraqi law enforcement needs to keep the peace along the war-torn streets.

But saying goodbye is never easy.

"We can train them how to shoot, we can train them how to move effectively, but to train someone how to leave the loved ones is very difficult," said Capt. Eric Sharyer.

For many of these soldiers, this is not the first time they've been in warzone. Many of them were deployed to Kosovo in 2006, and they say the support of family and friends helped them succeed in that mission.

"We've gone through it before. It's a struggle, just being away, but they're very supportive. E-mails, letters, packages -- every little thing helps," Sgt. David Bustrum said.

Including Bustrum's mom's cookies, which are very popular among the entire company.

"He said they would ask, 'Hey, when's your mom going to send more cookies,'" Betty Bustrum said. Still, Betty wishes she could be serving her son in the comforts of her own kitchen.

"The way I dealt with it all this time is that I wouldn't think about it. I just held the tears back until this morning, but now that the moment has come, it's very hard, very very hard," Betty said.

Yet these people are very proud of their sons and daughters, husbands and wives who are willing to sacrifice so much in service of our country.

"We've been proud of him since day one, so it's not something new," said a soldier's loved one.

 

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