POCAHONTAS - Before the start of their departure ceremony in the Pocahontas High School gym Saturday, the soldiers of the Army Reserve 415th Military Police Detachment got to spend a last few minutes with their spouses, children, parents and friends.
Some posed for pictures, some collected hugs and got a wet place on their uniform from a fallen tear.
Some just sat quietly and held their loved ones.
-Messenger photo by Hans Madsen
Spc. Nick McDonald, of Fort Dodge, shares a tender moment with his wife, Susan McDonald, before the official departure ceremony for the Army Reserve’s 415th Military Police Detachment got started in the Pocahontas High School gym Saturday afternoon. The unit is heading for Afghanistan after two months of training stateside.
Spc. Nick McDonald, of Fort Dodge, was saying goodbye to his wife, Susan McDonald. The couple married in April 2013. This is their second deployment as a couple, the first as husband and wife.
But she doesn't feel sorry for herself.
"It's not like what my grandma went through," Susan McDonald said.
Her grandmother, who saw her husband - McDonald's grandfather - through both World War II and Korea, gave her some simple, succinct advice.
"She told me to buck up."
The couple will be able to take advantage of modern technology to stay in touch. They used Facebook and Skype the last time.
"It helps out a lot," she said.
So does keeping busy. Susan McDonald has three horses to take care of, a workout regiment to maintain and something very vital.
"A giant family," she said.
When the weather warms up, she will take her new Model 72 Harley Davidson Sportster out for a spin.
Nick McDonald's mother, Christy McDonald, of Storm Lake, was also on hand to see her son off.
"I'm sad. I'm nervous," she said. "We are so proud of him."
Brett Allen, of Eagle Grove, was there to see his daughter, Spc. Brittany Allen, off on her deployment.
"I'm just concerned for a safe return," the father said.
He, too, will take advantage of modern communication.
"I can do the Facebook and Skype," he said. "It helps with some of the anxiety."
His own experience in the Marine Corps from 1979 to 1982 was plainly different.
"You waited for letters," he said.
Staff Sgt. Jarrod Hoskinson is on his first deployment; his daughter, Jillian, 3 months old, got lots of daddy hugs and snuggles before he set out.
"There's a lot to take in," he said. "It's going to be hard."
During the ceremony, U.S. Rep Steve King, R-Iowa, praised the troops,
"We have courageous warriors," he said. "Hold your head high. Come home safe and sound."
Richard Gruper, mayor of Pocahontas, said he will miss the troops.
"Be safe. Thank you for your service," he said. "I want to see your shiny faces come home."
Capt. Jonathan Klodt, commander of the unit, will miss the community.
"If it wasn't for you guys," he said, "we wouldn't have a unit here."
Madison Moller, 9, of Pocahontas, was there to say farewell to her father, Sgt. Josh Trulson. It's his fourth deployment overseas. During the last one, he was able to return for Christmas and surprise her at school.
She held a white carnation during the ceremony.
"This lady gave me the flower to remember the soldiers," she said.
She said she will.