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Serving America: Bedford soldiers leaving jobs, carrying on tradition

Sgt. Wilcox goes over his packing list during April drill before deployment.
Sgt. Wilcox goes over his packing list during April drill before deployment. (Copyright by WSLS - All rights reserved)

BEDFORD (WSLS 10) -  We work hard in our careers and enjoy pursuing our hobbies and passions but when you are a National Guard soldier you have to be ready to give it up when you're needed. 450 men and women in the Virginia National Guard are deploying to Qatar for a year long security mission.  They are leaving their jobs and serving America.

Austin Beaty rides bulls across the country.

"It's a lifestyle that's not meant for a lot of people," said Beaty, a sergeant with the National Guard and squad leader for Alpha Company in Bedford.

"I mush dogs in Colorado," said Michael Wilcox, who is also a sergeant and team leader. "We do sled dog tours through Aspen and the back country, I love it. It's a great job."

Daniel Fida is a K9 handler for the Department of Corrections.

"I've got a German Shepherd, he's four years old. His name is Armor," said Fida, a platoon leader and first lieutenant who will be giving up his dog to a co-worker when he deploys. "I believe everybody has a duty to their country and their state. It's just one of those things that I feel like I'm capable, physically able so I just need to do my part."

It is Sgt. Wilcox's third deployment after going to Iraq and Afghanistan.

"It's usually good relationships that are built over there and that's probably the best part," said Wilcox.

More than 100 soldiers from the Bedford armory will be traveling to Qatar and they say the strong history of the Bedford Boys will be in their mind.

"These guys were part of unit that wore the same patch on their shoulder you did," said 1LT Fida.

"It puts a lot of pressure on us. We carry the torch now. It really is not a duty so much as it is a privilege to carry the torch for what happened all those years ago on D-Day to now. We still have that rich history to uphold and keep that platform level so everybody knows that we're still one of the most ready fighting forces out there," said Sgt. Beaty.

They are ready to leave home and their passions behind to serve America.

Bedford's own Company A will receive a special send-off Saturday. The Company plans to march from the Town of Bedford up to the National D-Day Memorial where a special ceremony will take place about 3 p.m.  The community is invited to attend.  Admission fees will be waived from 1:30 - 3:00 p.m.