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The Associated Press

Fort Huachuca Soldiers Leave Families For Overseas Duty

December 10, 2002
Copyright © 2002 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. 

FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. - Soldiers from the 11th Signal Brigade flew off on a jet transport Tuesday as they headed overseas and away from their families as the U.S. military builds up forces in the Middle East.

A group of 20 soldiers left Libby Army Air Field on a C-5A transport for an undisclosed location, the first of nine planeloads of brigade soldiers expected to deploy.

For soldiers leaving this week, it will mean missing the holidays with their families.

"My wife and daughter are not happy, but they understand it's my job," said Sgt. 1st Class Victor Nunez, a 37-year-old motor pool platoon sergeant with the brigade's 40th Signal Battalion.

The brigade's soldiers, among the most deployed in the Army, provide communications, including computer networks, videoconferencing and secure phone and e-mail lines.

A total of up to 200 soldiers and more than 1 million pounds of equipment will be carried by nine Air Force transports, officers told the Sierra Vista Herald.

Nunez, a 14-year soldier from Puerto Rico, said this will be his eighth deployment and the fourth that has taken him away from home during the Christmas holidays.

He also will miss the eighth birthday of his daughter, Kathy, on Friday, but he said his wife and daughter understand the importance of his job.

"We were hoping it (the deployment) would be after Christmas," Nunez said, shrugging his soldiers.

Pfc. Steve Moralez, 21, has no wife or child to miss during the holidays, but he said he got a pat on the back from his father when he discussed a possible deployment while with his family in California for Thanksgiving.

"Dad's reaction was he was proud I was serving my country," Moralez said.

The battalion's commander, Lt. Col. John Dewey, said he and his family have already celebrated Christmas because he will be among those deploying.

The life of a soldier and that of a soldier's family is difficult, especially when they are not together for special days, Dewey said.

"It's hard on the families, and it is hard on the soldiers to be gone during the holidays," he said. "But we have to go places and do things."

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