GLEN JEAN, W.Va. — Thirty members of the West Virginia Army National Guard will say good-bye to friends and loved ones this weekend for a year-long deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Members of the 863rd Military Police Company will be sent to Guantanamo Bay.

“The guys are bringing mixed emotions to it,” said Lieutenant John Lopez of Oak Hill, the commander of the group. “Getting ready to leave the families for a year brings emotion, but at the same time there’s internal excitement because of the location and the desire to support the mission.”

It will be the first-ever deployment for Lopez and a sizeable number of his troops.

“We have several other MP companies throughout the state that have deployed in the past and I have some ‘onesy’ and ‘twosies’ who’ve deployed before and landed in our company,” he said. “But for most of us, this is our first deployment.”

The unit leaves Sunday for eight weeks of pre-deployment training at Fort Bliss, Texas. From there, they’ll be dispatched straight to Cuba to begin the year-long service.

“Keeping that open line of communication with the families back home is the key to this in my opinion,” Lopez said.

State Adjutant General James Hoyer will be there Sunday to see the troops off for their duty assignment.

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