GREGG KAKESAKO / GKAKESAKO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Spc. Elmine Badua, shown yesterday at Kalaeloa, said he will worry about his son, Elban, who is only 3 and doesn't understand why his father will be gone for a year.
First to Texas, then Kuwait
National Guard troops say goodbye as they gird for overseas duty
Three-year-old Elban Badua clung to his father to keep warm against the early morning breeze at Kalaeloa yesterday.
His father -- Hawaii Army National Guard Spc. Elmine Badua -- was headed off to war, again.
The elder Badua is a citizen-soldier assigned to Alpha Company, Brigade Special Troops Battalion.
His company is among the 1,700 members of the 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team and the Army Reserve's 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry, who are heading to Fort Hood, Texas, this week for two months of training before deploying to Kuwait for a year.
Elban Badua wasn't born when his father was first mobilized for war duty in Iraq in 2004.
"This time, it's going to be rough," Badua admitted as he looked down at his son.
The departure yesterday morning was more subdued than the farewell held four years ago when the soldiers left the quads at Schofield Barracks, where they had spent several months in pre-mobilization training.
Missing yesterday were the Mylar balloons, the large farewell placards and even the leis.
But one thing remained constant -- the many lingering hugs, kisses and whispers between couples before the soldiers climbed aboard the buses that took them to Hickam Air Force Base just before 3 a.m. From there a charter jet would take them to San Antonio, followed by another bus ride to Fort Hood.
As many as 84 percent of the soldiers have been through the goodbyes before, according to Hawaii Guard officials.
Sgt. 1st Class Carmen Cane, who has been in the Hawaii Guard for 27 years, summed it up: "I'm ready. I'm not really surprised (to be mobilized). We all knew somewhere down the line that we would have to go again."
Sgt. Sharde Marshall, a supply sergeant with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, added: "This is my second tour and hopefully I will be around for more."
Departing yesterday morning were soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 487th Field Artillery; Brigade Special Troops Battalion; and 29th Brigade Support Battalion.
Capt. Tino Tumpap, who commands Alpha Company, said this deployment presents new challenges for him, not only because he will command more soldiers than the last time but also because his unit will be tasked with providing security for civilian and military convoys moving from Kuwait into Baghdad.
"Last time our main duties were just patrolling," he said.
Members of the 100th Battalion, which will leave Oahu later this week, and the 29th Brigade's 1st Squadron, 299th Cavalry Regiment, have also been tasked with convoy security duties.
The rest of the 29th Brigade, which replaces a unit from the Ohio Army National Guard, will be stationed throughout Kuwait, providing administrative and security support. The brigade's headquarters will be located at Arifjan, south of Kuwait City.
The brigade will be at full strength by the beginning of next week when it is joined by 600 soldiers from the 45th Fires Brigade, an Oklahoma Army National Guard artillery unit.