Wishing Local Troops Farewell

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SCRANTON -- It was an emotional day for many military families around the state on Sunday. Hundreds of friends and family members gathered for a send-off ceremony for members of the Pennsylvania National Guard. The men and women will be spending about one year overseas, the troops were given a grand farewell.

More than 200 soldiers with the Pennsylvania National Guard said goodbye to loved ones at the Scranton armed forces reserve center, along Olyphant Avenue.

The brave men and women will perform security operations in Kuwait for most of next year. For Sgt. Jordan Bannister, it will be her first time serving overseas.

“We're leaving soon. In about a week we're going to Mississippi, and then in December we will be leaving for Kuwait. Get some training in, and then we get some experience over in southwest Asia,” said Bannister.

Saying goodbye can be especially tough for parents. Barbara Rushinski lives in Scranton, and her son is among those who will soon be leaving.

“Just to enjoy the ceremony, to wish these guys good luck and peace, and that they all come back safe and sound,” said Rushinski.

The departure ceremony in Scranton is not the only one happening. Throughout the state, about 1,500 soldiers will be leaving for Kuwait over the next few weeks.

“This is one ceremony of many that are happening around the commonwealth. Because of the size of the element that is deploying, we are off-setting them for a couple of days just for movement's sake,” said Sgt. Maj. Robert Debonise.

Those who are giving up so much to protect our country said it's wonderful to be sent off in such grand style.

“It's also good for us, because we know that command cares about us, and it's just nice to see everyone come together for a final goodbye,” said Bannister.

This particular sendoff touches close to home for the Newswatch 16 family. Two of our staff members -- videographer Keith Hickox, and producer Leo Russo -- are among those who will be spending nearly a year in Kuwait. Here's wishing all of our soldiers a safe journey.

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