Service members are finishing up their training in central Pennsylvania before heading off to Kuwait in October. About 1,500 soldiers will be sent.
The 55th Heavy Brigade Combat Team includes service members from the Centre Region to Scranton. The brigade was supposed to be deployed in the winter. Several delays abroad have caused them to wait and retrain to make sure they were ready.
The service members at the armory in Lock Haven, are part of the brigade. When they arrive in Kuwait in October, they'll transfer equipment from weapons to clothing to troops in action. Kuwait is on the southern border of Iraq and it's the central transition point in the Middle East for U.S. troops.
"It takes a lot of hard work, a lot of patience because there are a lot of moving and changing parts, a lot of training," said Lt. Danielle Hoffmeister.
Training is all done for soldiers like Sgt. Joshua Welty of Mill Hall, Clinton County. Assignments in the military can change, so this unit has been training for combat in case it comes under fire. Welty and other soldiers have had seven months of extra training that include reacting to IEDs and working with weapons.
"I feel more prepared for this deployment but at the same time, still, it's still time away from family," said Welty, who has been in the service for five years and was in Iraq two years ago. This will be his second deployment away from his two daughters. "Even though they might not understand now why I'm missing birthdays or first bike rides without training wheels, they'll look back and understand that I was a part of something much, much bigger than that."
Other soldiers here believe family at home brings their family abroad closer together.
"They become your sisters and your brothers your moms and dads so to speak. Your mentors, you don't want to go with anybody else, you want to go with these people," said Hoffmeister.
The brigade will be the largest deployment from the guard in Pennsylvania in three years. Their presence is greatly needed to transition the U.S. military from Iraq to Afghanistan.
The service members should return to central Pennsylvania in the fall of 2013.