Madison families give, receive support after loved ones deploy to Kuwait

Thursday was a very emotional day for 57 area families as they had one final embrace with loved ones who are off to serve overseas.

Madison soldiers with the Wisconsin National Guard Aviation were deployed to Kuwait on Thursday morning.

“Our mission may not be 100 percent certain, but I want each and every one of you to know, I have full faith and confidence that we will be ready for whatever is asked of us, whenever it is asked of us,” said Capt. Sarah Latza, commander of the Kuwait mission.

More than 50 percent of the CW3 1st Battalion 147th Aviation Battalion has served overseas before. Chief Warrant Officer Michael Jenders took off for his third deployment.

“It’s been good experiences. Good and bad, I guess you could say, but I’m looking forward to it and will be back soon enough,” Jenders said.

For Officer Andrew Wickland, the desire to defend isn’t without difficulty.

“It’s tough leaving the wife behind,” Wickland said.

He is also deploying for the third time, but now he’s leaving his wife and newborn, Cora May.

“If I could tell her one thing, it would be, be good to your mom,” Wickland said.

Other soldiers inside the Army Aviation Support Facility could be seen hugging and giving each other final words of wisdom before taking off for nearly one year.

To commemorate the mission and the brave men and women, Gov. Scott Walker, along with senior Wisconsin National Guard leaders, wished them good luck.

“We’re so proud of you. Not just with this deployment, but you are the best of the best,” Walker said.

The governor not only gave his blessing to those leaving, but spoke out to those staying behind. He made a strong recommendation that they find support themselves.

“That not only will help you, but will help your soldier stay focused on the mission at hand,” Walker said.

He mentioned there are several support programs in the Madison area on standby for families with deployed loved ones. They include the USO, the American Red Cross, the Sons of American Legion and the Wisconsin National Guard’s Family Support Staff.

A separate sendoff happened in West Bend on Thursday morning, as 35 soldiers from Company C, 1st Battalion, 168th Aviation were deployed to Afghanistan. Both missions are in support of Operations Spartan Shield and Freedom Sentinel.