By Anne Marshall
(BARDSTOWN, Ky.) -- There was a final farewell Thursday afternoon for 167 Kentucky National Guardsman from Bardstown. This is the first deployment for this unit in about 40 years. Many veterans from the unit's last tour of duty in Vietnam were on hand for the goodbye. As WAVE 3's Anne Marshall reports, the soldiers of Battery C, 2nd Battalion, 138th Artillery will be providing security while stationed in Iraq.
In a crowd of hundreds, 2 year old Hunter Carpenter kept tugging at mom, Stephanie, uttering "where's daddy." He was trying to spot his dad among the 167 soldiers being deployed to Operation Iraqi Freedom. Tomorrow morning, a quick glimpse of dad will take 16 long months.
"Do you see all the soldiers? They all look like daddy," says Stephanie.
Hunter's dad is Captain Travis Carpenter, commander of Charlie Company. A company with a long, rich history. The unit hasn't been deployed since Vietnam -- where they suffered several casualties.
On June 19, 1969, the soldiers of Battery C were the targets of a surprise attack on Tomahawk Hill. Nine men were killed -- five of them from Bardstown.
"It's just something you never forget," says Ronald Hibbs. He was one Vietnam veteran at the ceremony. In all, 37 men were injured that night.
Says Hibbs,"just lucky to be alive is what it comes down to." He looks out on the future veterans with the hope history doesn't repeat.
"Wish 'em good luck, pray for 'em and hope they come back safe," Hibbs said.
Friday morning, the soldiers leave for several weeks of training at Fort Dix, N.J. before heading overseas.
Online Reporter: Anne Marshall