Local Soldier Reflects, Prepares for Upcoming Deployment to Iraq

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While the presidential candidates debate the situation for soldiers already in Iraq, it's forgotten that there are still area soldiers being sent to Iraq for the first time.

Rockford's Michael Thode is waiting for a call from his country and says, "Being in the guard you have to always know that it's a possibility to serve; that's your duty," Thode said.

Thode, who serves in the 107th Military Battalion, will be deployed by November 26 for a 12-month tour in Iraq. His inevitable departure means every hour at home is a special gift with daughter Teresa and son Andrew.

"Every second is packed, trying to be with the family, making the house maintenance free for a year and a half, set up everything so my wife will be taken care of," Thode said.

That wife is Sarah, who says her husband's service bonded the family together like never before.

"It's been really great to see the kids attach themselves to his cause, what he's going to do. They feel like they are part of the adventure," Sarah Thode said.

Despite Iraq's daily violence, Sarah says she'll keep her mind focused on the positive aspects of the mission her husband will soon help carry out.

"It's so easy to pick up the paper and see something so negative that would just take over the whole day. When you're a mom with two kids you can't do that to them," Sarah Thode said.

And as his deployment draws near, Thode remains upbeat, prepared to trade his daily mission at home for the year-long mission in the Middle East.

"This could either be a terrible experience or a wonderful learning experience. I'm going to try and make it the best experience I possibly can and do the best job I possibly can while I'm over there," Thode said.

There will be a special ceremony for Michael Thode on Sunday. It takes place from 2 to 4 p.m. at Heartland Community Church in Rockford.

There will be donations for ribbons and support the troop magnets to help out the soldier's family. All are invited to come out and show their patriotism.