They've served in Iraq, and helped in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Now, more than two-hundred troops with Ashland's 201st Engineer Battalion are heading on a new mission to the U.S. Mexico border.
Two years ago, the same unit served the southern border patrolling near San Diego, so they are familiar with the setting.
On Sunday morning, the soldiers flew out of tri-state airport on their new mission to Arizona. They'll join thousands of military men and women from across America to help secure the border. But before they answered the call from the Commander in Chief, they had to say goodbye to family and friends.
For Sergeant Robert Cornett, leaving behind his three children is the hardest part of the mission. But with bags packed and heavy hearts, duty calls.
“They never like that call when you have to go, but they're always standing there for us,” said Cornett.
Earlean Jones has been a military wife for thirty-four years, but she says each final farewell never gets easier.
“I get a little anxious when he leaves, and scared for him because you just never know what's going to happen,” said Jones.
In a dangerous part of the country, the troops will be on the front lines in the war that is waging at the border. Their mission is to repair and build fences, improve roads, and support border patrol agents. They’re answering the call to duty to serve and support in the battle on the border.
Many people say the military presence is making a big difference. Since the National Guard started patrolling the border, the number of illegal immigrants caught trying to sneak into the U.S. has dropped by almost half.
Critics say the immigrants are just getting more creative, and avoiding the highly patrolled areas.
The 201st will return from Arizona on August 19th. West Virginia also has troops serving along the border.
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