460 soldiers prepare to deploy, first time for many

460 soldiers prepare to deploy, first time for many

FORT SILL, Okla._Hundreds of families and friends gathered at the Rinehart Fitness Center Wednesday morning to see off a second wave of soldiers deploying to the Middle East.

Over the next year, 460 soldiers from the 4th Battalion, 3rd Defense Artillery will provide support to Kuwait's central command area. These soldiers will be helping to man the Patriot Missile System while also overseeing its upkeep.

For about half of these soldiers, it will be their first deployment overseas. The Wilson family says they are already counting down the days until their soldier is home once again.

Army wife Devionna Wilson says she is filled with emotion watching her husband of just six months, Private First Class Stephen Wilson, deploy.

"I am nervous because he has never been on deployment, so I am kind of scared at the same time. I have just got a lot of mixed emotions," said Wilson.

This will be the first time the couple has been apart for this long after being together for the past five years. Wilson enlisted a year ago and underwent his basic training at Fort Sill. He says even though being a part from his family will be tough, he's happy to serve his country.

"I always felt like I had a purpose. And when I joined the Army, I felt like I met that purpose in life," said Pfc. Wilson.

While in Kuwait, thousands of miles apart, Wilson says he'll be able to find some comfort in technology. He will have Wi-Fi and be able to Skype with his 3-year-old daughter, Kaylah, at the end of his work day.

"I am going to miss them a lot, but hopefully we will be able to communicate with them every day. That is one thing that my command team said they will make sure that we stay in touch with our families," said Pfc. Wilson.

Battalion Commander Lieutenant Colonel Todd Schmidt says he wants these young people to learn from this experience to become better soldiers.

"That they grow from it. That they understand the pride that they should take in the assignment. The pride that they should take in the mission. The trust, security and confidence that they should have from the training they did and how that will see them through the year," said Lt. Col. Schmidt.

The unit has been at Fort Sill since July 27, 2010, while supporting the 31st Air Defense Artillery.