Family members with loved ones in HHB 1-194th Field Artillery being deployed to the Middle East, climbed on board an Excel Executive Coach Friday afternoon at the Storm Lake National Guard armory to head for Fort Hood, Texas, to see their soldiers one last time before the unit heads overseas.
According to Charissa Saathoff, who helped organized the trip and whose husband is among the soldiers being deployed, the men and women of the 194th have been training in Texas to take part in the fighting in Afghanistan.
Just prior to leaving family members and supporters gathered to decorate the coach and load belongings.
Saathoff said family members haven't seen their loved ones since Feb. 25.
"We are all excited to see our soldiers before their long mission ahead," she said. "However, the community's support and involvement does help make this separation somewhat easier."
Saathoff said at least 23 soldiers from the Storm Lake area are being sent overseas with the artillery unit including her husband Randy Saathoff.
"There are 65 members of the unit from Storm Lake unit but these soldiers volunteered to go to Afghanistan," Saathoff said. "More than 44 people signed up for the trip to Texas to say good-bye. We have been extremely fortunate to get donations from area businesses to make it affordable for us to charter the bus and make the trip."
Sponosrs include Excel Executive Coaches, Fitzpatrick Auto, Tyson Fresh Meats, Don's Farm Supply, Newell First Community Bank, Central Bank, Sioux Rapids Catholic Church, Sioux Rapids First Lutheran Church, Subway, Culligan and Fareway Foods.