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Luverne, county, say goodbye to guard

Family and friends crowded into Luverne's Douglas Park on Friday night to bid farewell to 24 members of the 117th Field Artillery headed overseas to Iraq.

Despite sweltering summer humidity, a large number of residents turned out for the ceremony. The park and grandstand was decorated with American flags and yellow ribbons as the 117th prepares for its first mobilization since the Korean War.

The 117th is made up of guard members from Andalusia and Citronelle, along with Greenville/Luverne's Bravo Battery. Following training in Indiana, over 140 guardsmen will be deployed to Iraq within the next two months. They are expected to remain on active duty for over a year.

A ceremony for the entire 1st Battalion of the 117th was held in Andalusia on Monday.

"There's a lot of oppression, a lot of fear and a lot of slavery in this world," said Luverne Mayor Joe Rex Sport, addressing the unit. "But I'm proud that our country has taken it upon themselves to see that injustice is something that should not be tolerated. Your experience will have a positive affect on you. We realize this is a time of stress and a time a trauma, but know that you're a part of the best trained military in the world and you've never stood so tall as you have today."

Master Sergeant David Sanders spoke on behalf of the unit.

"It's hard on us to have to leave our families," Sanders said. "This is a fine group of men and my goal is to bring each and everyone of them home. I believe in prayer and I want you to pray continuously for us."

Bravo Battery's mission in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom will be to provide transportation for other units already in the Iraqi theatre.

Members of Bravo Battery going to Iraq are: Cpt. Christopher R. Chisum, MSG David R. Sanders, SFC John R. Foster, SFC Calvin M. Rogers, SSG Jerry M. Jordan, Sgt. Ricky B. Mitchell, Sgt. Christopher A. Mack, Sgt. Bobby Beasley, Sgt. James A. McGough, SPC Dion P. Boyce, SPC Justin S. Flowers, Pvt. Thomas W. Jones, SPC William A. Harrison, SPC Jeffery L. Jeffcoat, SPC Jeffery Johnson, SPC Samuel Lavon Lowery, SPC Jeffery L. Ludlum, SPC Carl Massey, SPC Eric Roper, SPC Lyndon Z. Sewell, SPC Steven D. Sexton, SPC James Taylor, SPC Terry Woodson, Sgt. Luther Quillen.