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‘We’re not going to forget them’ — Brookhaven rally to encourage deploying troops set for 11 a.m. Monday

About 150 troops with the India Co. 106 in Brookhaven will be headed out this month as part of a year-long deployment and the public is invited to send them off with plenty of well-wishes and hugs Monday.

The rally will begin at 11 a.m. at the Army National Guard Armory on Hwy. 84.

“We want it to be a big morale boost,” said Lori Byrne, chairwoman of the Family Readiness Group. “Let’s show them that we love them and appreciate them for what they’re doing.”

More than 4,000 Mississippi National Guard soldiers are leaving for a three-month training deployment in Fort Bliss, Texas, followed by nine months overseas. The 155th Armored Brigade Combat Team is supposed to deter and react to threats in the Middle East.

The brigade is based in Tupelo, with units in McComb, Senatobia, Starkville, Amory, Monticello and Meridian, as well as in Kansas City, Kansas.

This will be the brigade’s third deployment to the Middle East since 2001.

The send-off will include patriotic music and words of encouragement from public officials.

“We want to show them that we’re not going to forget them while they’re gone,” she said.

Among the 150 troops from I Co. 106 is Byrne’s husband, Spec. Joshua Byrne, who will be leaving his wife and his job with Walmart Distribution for a year in the Middle East.

This will be his first deployment.

The Byrnes married in October in anticipation of his deployment. Lori Byrne said her husband’s time in the National Guard would have been up in January, but he re-enlisted so he could go overseas with his company.

“All of his buddies were going,” she said. “He just couldn’t let them go alone.”

Byrne will be in a gunner truck, “a big humvee with a big gun on top,” she said. “He’s a driver. It’s not ideal, but I have faith in our company.”

Lincoln County Chancery Clerk Tillmon Bishop will be among those speaking Monday. His father was a prisoner of war twice during the Korean War.

“It’s a commitment that these guys make that a lot of people don’t understand,” he said. “They put themselves in harm’s way and they leave their families behind to do that. If we don’t respect that, then it’s an absolute shame on our part.”

Bishop encourages the public to come to the send-off if possible to support these troops.

“This is a unique opportunity for our area to do this, to come and make a big deal out of it, because it is a big deal,” he said.

For more information about the Family Readiness Group for India Co. 106, contact Byrne by email at loriree08@yahoo.com.