Indiana families say long goodbye to deploying soldiers

It is the largest Indiana National Guard deployment since World War II.

Family members got their last chance Saturday to say an emotional goodbye to Indiana’s soldiers.

More than three thousand troops with the 76th Infantry Brigade have been training for three months at Fort Stewart, Georgia. Among them, hundreds of Michiana soldiers in the 293rd out of Warsaw and Fort Wayne.

Now, they're leaving for Iraq.

“Like so many before you, when you do, you will bring safety to our children, and honor to our state. God bless you and we'll see you when you get back,” said Gov. Daniels, (R) Indiana.

Family members watched Saturday as Governor Mitch Daniels took part in the ceremonial "Pass In Review" at Fort Stewart.

Army Vice Chief of Staff General Richard Cody said to the soldiers, “I’m not worried about this outfit. I know you are the best led, the best trained, the best equipped force we've ever sent into combat.”

Family and friends that made the trip from Indiana to Georgia were treated to a family day after the ceremony.

South Bend’s Marci Messer, who was watching her brother-in-law said, “Four thousand troops out of there, you kind of focus on your one troop out of those troops. It's hard to imagine how much that one person means to you.”

For some this is their last chance to say goodbye, while others have a four-day pass to spend however they please.

Newscenter 16's Ryan Famuliner was with the soldiers’ families today. He'll have much more on how they prepared for the departure in the coming days on Newscenter 16 on the air and online.

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