Fort Sill soldiers prepare to deploy to Turkey - KSWO 7News | Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Fort Sill soldiers prepare to deploy to Turkey

FORT SILL, Okla_ About 400 Fort Sill soldiers were given a sendoff ceremony on the post Wednesday, as they prepare to deploy overseas.

The troops are with the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Air Defense Artillery. They're heading to Turkey. Fellow soldiers, family, friends and other civilians filled the stands at Fort Sill's Rinehart Gym to wish them good luck.

The troops are responding to a NATO request for support of patriot missiles based there. Today's group represents about half of the number of soldiers in the battalion. These soldiers say they're ready for the mission overseas, some even looking forward to being deployed.

"I'm looking forward the experience overall and serving my country," Specialist Stephanie Frew said. "I'm a fairly new soldier, so I'm looking forward to getting out there and doing my job."

"I look forward to learning a new experience," Sergeant Roberto Sanchez said, "Learning new skills, teaching some of my guys, and growing as a team and being able to come back and keep it going."

This is Sanchez's second deployment. He said the hardest part is saying goodbye to those in the stands.

"It's definitely hard being away from the family," Sanchez said. "Once we're there, we rely on each other as a second family."

The group's Battalion Commander said these soldiers spent the last 45 days preparing for the mission ahead. They have been sacrificing time with family to learn how to better operate everything from handguns to missiles, all in an effort to assist turkey.

"It's not something folks pray for," Lieutenant Colonel Charles Branson said. "However, you train to do something your entire life. When you're asked to go and do that mission, you're kind of ambivalent."

He said while going overseas may not be easy for some just after the holidays, they now must do what they've sworn to do.

"We are in the army," Branson said. "We are raising our right hands and go and execute that mission."

LTC Branson said the mission overseas could keep soldiers away from home as long as a year.

Turkey shares a 565-mile border with Syria, and the Patriot Air Defense Systems were ordered to be sent there last month by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. The move is aimed at shoring up their defenses in case the ongoing civil war in Syria leads to attacks on Turkey.



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