Chattanooga soldiers leave for training, then on to Kuwait - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Chattanooga soldiers leave for training, then on to Kuwait

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- Two hundred soldiers are headed to Kuwait on a stabilizing mission in the Middle East. The sendoff service was Wednesday, but on Thursday the soldiers loaded up on buses and headed for Camp Shelby, Mississippi, before their mission takes them on to Kuwait.

"This is my fourth tour," said Sgt First Class Raymond Prestel. "It doesn't get any easier. It gets harder leaving your family."

Prestel and nearly 200 other soldiers form the Tennessee National Guard 1-181st in Chattanooga said goodbye to friends and family Thursday morning.

Prestel left three children and his wife of six months. He'll be back a years' time, but has braced them for the worst.

"If something ever happens, know that I'll always be with him forever," his wife Kim said. "He has consistently told me and the kids that he's not going to be there. And we have to hold it all together while he's gone. He constantly calls me the hero because I have to take care of everything here."

While Prester and the rest of these soldiers are overseas, the National Guard promises to do all they can to help families get by without their loved ones.

Scott O'Steen, a family assistance specialist with the National Guard, says no need or problem is too small or big. "This could range from anything like helping a wife get a washing machine fixed, to something legal, something medical. Whatever they need help with."

Unfortunately for Kim they can't help her celebrate her first wedding anniversary this October 1st. But it's something she's come to terms with.

"He's doing something very noble and it makes me very proud," she said proudly. "There will be many more to com. I can do without him for one year."


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