Local National Guard Unit Departs for Overseas Mission - Yet Again

By: Brad Broders
By: Brad Broders

He has served his nation, and given the goodbye hugs before. But for the 244th Army Liaison Team's Spiro Tromboukis, Sunday's goodbye had an entirely different feel.

"This is much tougher, cause like I said, I got my daughter now. Last deployment, it was just a family, no kids, so it wasn't as hard," 244th soldier Tromboukis said.

In a packed Machesney Park armory, hundreds of family members and loved ones said goodbye to the 23 member unit. For the first time ever, an Illinois national guard unit is being deployed for a second time overseas, a military mission seven 244th soldiers will undertake - yet again.

"In seeing that my wife and family held up OK the first time, I probably am more comfortable leaving now for the 2nd time, because they've passed the test once," 244th soldier Eric Nilsson said.

Leading the unit on their roughly 18 month tour is Colonel Lesa McManigell, who is departing her own family for her other military family.

"I'm looking forward to the challenge against the war on terrorism. I'm anticipating bringing back all of the troops home safely," Cl. McManigell said.

On their last weekend in the Stateline as civilians, while most of the soldiers emotionally leave as proud parents, they all can't wait to return as proud patriots.

"It says that we're a good unit, we're a good team and we know our job and it needs to be done, so we're getting to do it again," 244th soldier Derrick Smith said.

"I'm going to be upset that I'm going to miss my kids, but I am proud they are calling us back. That means we did something right the first time," Tromboukis said.

A National Guard unit of ordinary men and women called into extraordinary service for the second time.

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