46ºF

Serving America: Lynchburg based National Guard unit heading to Qatar

Priebe with family. (Courtesy: Adam Priebe)
Priebe with family. (Courtesy: Adam Priebe) (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

LYNCHBURG (WSLS 10) -  It is a week of goodbyes as Virginia National Guard Soldiers known as the Red Dragons get ready to leave for a year long deployment. They are assigned to the Lynchburg-based 1st battalion, 116th infantry regiment.  The 450 Virginia National Guard soldiers represent four companies-- from Christiansburg, Bedford, Lexington and Lynchburg.  They are heading to Qatar half way around the world for a security mission, replacing the Virginia National Guard's Winchester-based 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, also known as Task Force Normandy.

"This is my first deployment. I'm very excited about it," said Lieutenant Matt Morris, a Battalion Unit Movement Officer.

As he helps his fellow soldiers make sure they have all their equipment ready, LT Morris is getting ready for two major life events.

"First deployment, first son on the way so it's a pretty exciting time," says Morris with a smile, although the thought of leaving his first child just days old is tough.

It's going to be tough" - LT Matt Morris

Leaving family and soon to be family is one of the hardest parts of deployment.

"I am engaged. We have the wedding planned for actually a month after we get back from deployment so I'm really looking forward to that," said Staff Sergent Adam Priebe, an Intelligence Analyst who has been on deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan.

For him, he says deployment is routine but it's different for his fiance Hillary.

"For her this is the first time she's ever experienced this. At first she was kind of sad, like 'that stinks' but now that it's getting close it's really starting to hit home and she was like 'oh my gosh you're going to be gone for a long time' so I've been walking her through that, getting prepared. She'll be fine, she'll do just fine," said Priebe.

There is some comfort as they pack up knowing they are going to Qatar where they will be able to use the internet easily.

"Being able to have that video chat capability, being able to send emails and talk regularly so I'll be able to see my son as she video chats me with whatever he's doing that day. That will make it a little easier as opposed to being in a remote area where there's very limited contact," said Morris, who plans on keeping in touch with his wife and new baby Peyton.

The Red Dragons are scheduled to begin serving on federal active duty in May and will train in Texas for about 30 to 45 days before heading overseas.