Guam Farewells 600 National Guard Soldiers

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Afghanistan deployment largest in history

By Jerick Sablan

HAGÅTÑA, Guam (Pacific Daily News, March 3, 2013) – Hundreds of family members and friends gathered at the Guam National Guard Readiness Center yesterday to say their farewells to their loved ones leaving for deployment.

About 600 soldiers with the Guam Army National Guard left the island yesterday surrounded by family and friends.

This deployment is the largest in Guam's history. Soldiers from the I-294th Infantry Regiment are slated for deployment to Afghanistan to support Operation Enduring Freedom after a few months of training in the mainland.

Soldiers and their loved ones comforted one another as they waited to be called to leave for a bus ride to Andersen Air Force Base for a flight to the mainland.

Family and friends embraced the soldiers for last hugs, while spouses tried to get as many hugs and kisses as possible before their loved ones left.

Sgt. Kayne Kamminga, his wife, Franchesca Kamminga, and their four daughters gave their final hugs and kisses before the husband and father left for deployment.

This is Kayne Kamminga's second deployment so his wife said she has had some experience in dealing with a deployment. During his first deployment the couple had only their first two daughters, but this deployment there are another two.

"It's going to be a little bit harder, but I have to be strong for him and be strong for my daughters," Franchesca Kamminga said.

Kayne Kamminga said the family is very spiritual and said he feels at peace because God is in their lives. His wife agreed.

"I'm not scared. I'm not worried. I just pray that all of the soldiers all come home safe," she said.

Jessica Acfalle hugged her husband, Pfc. Manny Acfalle, tightly as they waited for him to be called to line up.

Jessica Acfalle said she was hurting because this will be the first time the couple will be separated for so long after six years of being together. This is Acfalle's first deployment.

"I just have to try to be strong for the sake of the kids and for him so he doesn't worry while he's back there," she said.

Jessica Acfalle said the couple and their six children spent their last few days together by going to the beach and barbecuing.

She said she's going to occupy her time with her kids and hopes time goes by fast.

"I just pray he comes home safe," she said.

As the soldiers were told they had five more minutes before they had to get in line and in formation, loved ones wiped tears from their faces as the soldiers got ready.

The soldiers shouted, "Hooah," as they stood in formation.

Several buses were waiting in the parking lot for the soldiers to board, and when all the buses came around the soldiers walked quickly to their respective vehicles.

Family and friends snuck in final hugs, kisses and photos before the National Guardsmen boarded the buses.

Cassandra Tedtaotao gave a farewell kiss to her significant other, Matt Cruz. She said she wasn't ready to see him leave.

"I kind of want him to get off the bus," Tedtaotao said.

At one point Tedtaotao said she had high hopes he wasn't going to be deployed. She said one day, Cruz had wanted to tell her some good news; she hoped it was that he wasn't going to be deployed.

"It turned out that he got promoted. It's still good but not what I wanted to hear," she said.

Family and friends waved their final goodbyes and some blew kisses to their soldiers as the troops sat in the buses waiting to leave.

As the buses left from Barrigada for Yigo, several Yigo residents gathered near the Yigo gym for a wave.

Mayor Rudy Matanane gathered Yigo residents to show the village's support for the deploying soldiers.

Yigo resident Anabell Galvez held up a sign that read, "We support our troop." She said she knows several people being deployed and wanted to show that she supports them.

"I'm sad, but also happy. It's a part of life. They will be back," Galvez said.

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