First Del. troops deploy to Afghanistan in the New Year

By Amy Cherry 3:13pm, January 3, 2013 - Updated 3:18pm, January 3, 2013
WDEL's Amy Cherry reports.
The Vice President's wife, Dr. Jill Biden, and Governor Markell join more than 1,000 people in a send off ceremony for members of the Delaware National Guard.

WDEL's Amy Cherry was there.

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There were more tears than smiles in the room as 175 members of the 153rd said goodbye to their family and friends for a year as they head off to Kandahar in Afghanistan.

Among them Chris Connors of Smyrna, who tells WDEL more about their mission.

"We'll be training the ANPs, the Afghani National Police, teaching them to protect and serve like we do, take care of their country and keep people safe," says Connors.

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This is his first deployment in his three years with the National Guard.

"It's surreal. I don't know how I feel. I know I'm going to miss my family, that's what I know, and it's hard to say goodbye," he says, "I don't really feel too emotional yet, but I know when I get on that plane, it's going to be a whole different world."

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Connors plans to Skype with his young niece Sophie and his sister Nikki Lavoie, who had a tough time saying goodbye to her baby brother.

"I'm very proud of him, but it doesn't mean that I'm not going to miss him, and it doesn't mean that my daughter, his niece, isn't going to miss him every day as well," said Lavoie, choking on tears, "And that I'm not going to worry about him from this day on until he comes home."

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The troops head to training for four to six weeks at Fort Dix in New Jersey before they leave for Afghanistan sometime in February.

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