By Ronica Shannon
Senior News Writer
Louisville native Derek McGinnis held his 1-year-old daughter Isabella closely Monday morning, giving last-minute kisses and hugs before being deployed to Afghanistan.
A departure ceremony was conducted in the Army Reserve Center at the Blue Grass Army Depot for members of the Lexington-based 125th Transportation Company.
The unit is comprised of more than 150 soldiers who left on a nine-month tour of duty.
“This is my first deployment,” McGinnis said. “But, about half of our unit has been deployed at least once.”
He said he was excited about the journey ahead of him, but also had some concerns.
“I want to make sure I’ve taken care of everything at home before I leave,” he said. “I’m worried whether or not my family is going to hold up without the man of the house around.”
His wife, Tiffany, said she was prepared to take on this new challenge.
“I’m sad, but I have to be strong about it,” she said. “I’m worried about not being able to talk to him every day and wondering if he’s OK or not.”
Michael and Rachael Thompson of Indiana were saying their goodbyes Monday after the ceremony.
“This is my third time being deployed,” Michael said.
“I’m ready for him to come home,” Rachael said. “It’s very stressful and you have to have the patience of Job.”
Jordan and Natasha Gregory of Richmond shared an intimate family moment with their 10-month-old son, Gannon, and his older brother, Kolten, 3.
Jordon is going to miss a lot of Gannon’s “firsts,” Natasha said. “His first Christmas and his first birthday,” to name a few.
This is the second time Jordon has been deployed, but the fears of leaving are always the same, he said.
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray was the guest speaker for Monday’s farewell event.
“The most important thing I can say today is ‘Thank You,’” Gray said to a packed audience’s applause.
“Thank you to those who are being deployed and for the friends and family who are staying at home. Thank you for what you’re sacrificing for this company. We’re honored by your service here today. You are defending a remarkable country and the remarkable institution of democracy. One thing that all of your here today should know is that our citizens, our state and our country stand behind you and stand behind your service.”
The primary mission of the 125th Transportation Company is to transport fuel to remote locations while providing convoy security. The unit previously deployed to Iraq in 2004-2005. It successfully transported more than 1.7 million gallons of fuel resulting in numerous awards and decorations, including the Purple Heart and a Bronze Star For Valor.
Before arriving in Afghanistan, the unit’s men and women will take part in post-mobilization training at Fort Hood, Texas.
Ronica Shannon can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 624-6608.