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WDAY: The News Leader

Published August 21, 2011, 09:27 PM

Hundreds of Family and Friends say Goodbye to Troops

Wahpeton, ND (WDAY TV) - Family, friends, and supporters of our troops are preparing to say goodbye before deploying.

By: Travis Skonseng, WDAY

Family, friends, and supporters of our troops are preparing to say goodbye before deploying. About 160 North Dakota National Guard soldiers are bound for a year of duty in Kuwait. They leave within two weeks.

For Joe and Christina Cook, waiting for war brings heavy hearts. Not only is one deploying, but both.

SGT. Christina Cook – 188th Engineer Company: “It's going to be a little bit harder as husband and wife.”

Staff SGT Joe Cook – 188th Engineer Company: “A little nerve wracking, but we're both mentally prepared as much as we can be.”

Their story is unique. The Fargo couple has been married since 2005. This her second deployment, his first.

SGT. Christina Cook – 188th Engineer Company: “I kind of figured well, why don't you go with us. That way maybe we have a chance of seeing each other versus maybe being apart for a couple years.”

By the end of this month, the Cooks will leave together with about 160 other troops to train in Fort Bliss, Texas. Then, they'll deploy to Kuwait within months. There, the 188th soldiers will provide plumbing, maintenance, and construction skills.

Gov. Jack Dalrymple – (R) North Dakota: “You are truly the epitome of citizen soldiers.”

Hundreds of loved ones, community members, and our state leaders wished them well at a sendoff in Wahpeton.

Sen. John Hoeven – (R) North Dakota: “You will be in our hearts and prayers every single day that you are gone and we're already looking at our watch, counting the days until we gather again.”

The somber ceremony stretches far and wide. These guardsmen hail from nearly 70 communities.

SGT. Christina Cook – 188th Engineer Company: “You just kind of have to adjust and go with what we can.”

For the Cooks, they are ready to serve, and having each other to lean on in, makes this battle bittersweet.

Staff SGT Joe Cook – 188th Engineer Company: “Knowing that I'll be able to have a chance to see her at times makes it more comfortable.”

This is the first mobilization for the 188th Engineers. There are units in Wahpeton and Oakes.

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