MILITARY MATTERS: 100 medical personnel to begin 9-month mission - WTVM.com-Columbus, GA News Weather & Sports

MILITARY MATTERS: 100 medical personnel to begin 9-month mission

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FORT BENNING, GA (WTVM) -

More than 100 medical personnel are about to begin a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan.  They've been making final preparations this week at Ft. Benning, Ga. and on Monday held a traditional casing ceremony.

That's when the colors of a particular military unit are prepared for deployment.

The ceremony featured the 14th Combat Support Hospital, which is headed back to Afghanistan to assist in the medical care of American and Coalition forces, and detainees.

Otha Smith was among those in attendance Monday.  Smith has been through this before, when he took part in the first Gulf War two decades ago.  Now it's his wife's turn.

"We don't talk much about what the mission is Smith told us, just the particulars, when we're leaving, when we're coming home. You know, stuff like that."

His wife, Capt. Tonya Maddox-Smith, said the help of others has readied her for the mission.

"I got a lot of support from friends and family, she told us, and strangers that will just stop me and thank me for my service. I always thank them for their support."

With fewer and fewer U.S. troops in Afghanistan, many are asking if this is the final deployment there.

"Never say never", said Col. W. Scott Drennon, commander of the 14th. "It may very well be the last but anything can change. It all depends on the mission down range, and what they decide we need to do next"

The nine months can't end quickly enough for Cheryl DeLoach and her family. She's worried about her husband's safety. But like many loved ones left behind, Cheryl draws strength from his commitment.

"There are no words of how proud I am of him", said DeLoach. "He's serving his country. He says God, family and country, and he truly believes that, and so do I."

The troops will join a much larger contingent when they get to Afghanistan.

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