West Tennessee troops leave for service in Kuwait - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

West Tennessee troops leave for service in Kuwait

(WMC-TV) - Servicemen and women with the Tennessee National Guard in Ripley and Dyersburg deployed Thursday morning for Kuwait.

For some, this departure was a first.

"I really don't know what to expect. I'm nervous, scared, and excited all at the same time," said 268th troop member Mac Cates.

But for many preparing to leave, it has become a way of life.

"Both me and his father are retired military. I was in the Navy and he was in the Marines, so we know about deployments, but its different when it's your own child," said Sherri Onorati.

With a cavalcade of motorcycles and police officers, the 170 soldiers took off, headed to Kuwait in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

"I'm gonna miss my family a lot," Cates said.

For mothers like Onorati, Thursday's departure couldn't have come at a worse time. Her son, Riean, has to leave his newborn baby.

"So he's ten weeks now," she said. "He's gonna be grown when they come back - 18 months old. He's gonna miss so much."

Onorati will depend on email and Skype to keep in touch with her son while he's overseas.

In all, Tennessee has deployed over 21,000 troops to serve. Most say they don't regret their decision.

"When I first joined, I was like, 'Oh no, what did I do?' But now I love it," Cates said.

Members of the 268th troop will first head to Camp Shelby for training. Within a month, they'll be deployed to Kuwait.

Their stay overseas isn't expected to last more than 400 days.

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