SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, WAHIAWA (HawaiiNewsNow) - The 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks on Wednesday honored about 750 soldiers who will be deploying to Iraq beginning next week. For their families, there were mixed emotions. The troops will be departing during the holiday season.
It certainly wasn't lost on Army officials that the deployment ceremony fell on the eve of what they described as "one of the most cherished holidays in American tradition."
Eight-year-old Nyah and six-year-old Emory are trying to catch a glimpse of their daddy. He's among the approximately 750 Tropic Lightning soldiers preparing for a year-long deployment to Iraq.
"We're honored to be here, but it's still a bit of a challenge," Andrea Kellogg, Lt. Colonel's wife, said. "We'll have a challenging and a long year ahead, but we're just looking forward to them coming back safely."
Family members watched as the troops got into formation, underwent inspection by their commanding general, and received the ceremonial sound off.
The soldiers will deploy in support of Operation New Dawn. The US is providing training and other assistance to Iraqi security forces, and closing this chapter of the military mission in Iraq.
"It is a difficult mission," Lt. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, US Army Pacific Commanding General, said. "It is a dangerous mission and it is probably one of the most important missions that a division has undertaken during this conflict in Iraq."
The soldiers and their families will enjoy Thanksgiving together, but will be separated during Christmas.
"It is a tough time of year to go, but this is who we are," Maj. Gen. Bernard Champoux, 25th Infantry Division Commanding General, said. "This is what we do. Everyone in this unit, everyone on that parade field volunteered, stepped forward to volunteer to do this."
"We're actually going to celebrate an early Christmas, so that will be nice," Andrea Kellogg said. "We're going to do that this weekend."
Until it's time to leave, Nyah and Emory's father, Lt. Col. Alan Kellogg, will grab all the hugs he can.
"We're optimistic that things will go smooth and very quickly," Lt. Col. Kellogg, 25th Infantry Division Headquarters, said. "I think it's going to be a great deployment and we're excited for what lies ahead."