FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. — Friends and family members gathered Saturday at the Memorial Building in Fayetteville to send off 30 members of the West Virginia Army National Guard for a one year deployment in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The members of the 863rd Military Police Company based in Glen Jean will spend eight weeks in Fort Bliss, Texas before heading on to their assignment as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

“The guys are bringing mixed emotions to it,” company commander Lt. John Lopez told MetroNews earlier this week. “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, of Oak Hill, and  and many 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.”

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


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  • Ray

    Been there done that. Remember the fishing I better on the windward side. Do not hit the lizards with the hummer and beware of the banana rats! Oh and eat some jerked chicken and drink some ting for me at the tiki bar. Have a good time stay safe and remember only you can prevent forest fires.

  • Stay Safe and Just the facts

    Stay safe and come back to us! We are with and support all of you! all On another note, most of the Generals (Some are AGR) and Colonels in the WV Army and Air National Guard have never deployed. They sit in Charleston at HQ's and other hidden offices collecting huge pay and have never deployed to a hostile or overseas zone. It's absolutely ridiculous. Heck some have never endured the tough I.G. or ORI inspections. They should be backing up every payday.

    • Fred

      Does the National Guard require drug testing?

      • Mountain Man

        Not sure about the Army Guard, but the Air Guard follows USAF testing rules and test at least 10% each drill. Both state Air Guard bases have a Medical Squadron who manage the actual urine samples (which used to be sent out to USAF analysis labs) and another unit within HQ's (Used to be called Social Actions) that provides randomly selected list of names to commanders or commanders supervisor for testing each drill. It's a well run program in the Air Guard.

        • Fred

          Thanks for the info. I asked because I know a Guardsman who is using marijuana, was arrested, and I wondered how he could stay in. It sounds like he is taking a substantial risk, both with his health and with his scholarship/career.

  • Freedom Recipient

    God Bless You, and God bless the USA.
    p.s. We need you on that wall!