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Southern Illinois sends off its soldiers
January 21, 2020
Southern Illinois said goodbye to the 2nd Battalion of the 130th infantry of the National Guard on Tuesday. Gov. J.B. Priztker and other state officials were in attendance along with the family and friends of the soldiers.
Roughly a thousand people packed into the Banterra Center to say goodbye. The ceremony included speeches from the governor and high ranking officials like Brig. Gen. Richard R. Neely and Maj. Gen. Michael Zerbonia.
“You raised your right hand, you said ‘I’ll be deployed’ and you stepped up to it,” Neely said in his speech to the battalion. “You, the 1 percent, goes to war so the other 99 doesn’t have to. That’s true dedication. That’s true Americans, and that’s something, on behalf of a grateful nation we say thank you to.”
Adam Warfel, former Daily Egyptian sports editor and specialist in the 130th Infantry, said the battalion has known about this deployment for a while and this deployment of troops is not response to the drone strikes on Iran military officials, instead the battalion is going to Afghanistan.
Warfel said he joined the National Guard as a way to serve his country and it helped pay for his education. He has one semester left before graduating from SIU.
“I saw the whole SIU basketball team [at the sendoff] and some of the women’s basketball team,” Warfel said. “It was really cool seeing the Saluki Athletics, as a whole, being there to represent and support us.”
Many of the speakers thanked the soldiers and veterans but also the friends and family who came to support their troops.
“You are an extension of the National Guard and an extension of the national defense, and as somebody who has deployed multiple times, I couldn’t have done it without my family,” Neely said.
Larry Long-Croteau, a member of the Mount Vernon VFW Post 9233 who served in the Navy from 1964 to 1968, said he is really happy to see the send-off these troops are getting.
“We wish them the very best and we look forward to them coming home,” Long-Croteau said. “We didn’t have that when we came home. I don’t want those guys to go through what we did.”
Sherrill is a native of Colp and is a graduate of SIU. He is part of the active guard in Marion, so he helps soldiers with everyday needs as far as career progression and getting them into schools and courses they need.
The ceremony concluded with the battalion visiting with their friends and family on the Harry L. Crisp Sr. court
Staff reporter Jacob Lorenz can be reached at [email protected] or on Twitter at @jtlorenz6.
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