Valley Soldiers Begin Deployment to East Africa

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MISSION – Sometime next year, local soldiers of the Texas National Guard will return to the Rio Grande Valley.

In recent days, guardsmen and guardswomen began their deployment to the Horn of Africa, in the eastern part of the continent.

A Valley-based group makes up a portion of the 144th Infantry Regiment that is headed to support Operation Enduring Freedom.

Representatives for the Texas National Guard said the soldiers will join the Combined Joint Task Force in East Africa, to assist partners in "countering violent extremist organization in the regions."

It means a long time away for spouses and family members who remain in the Valley.

"It has to be done," said Ruby Flores, who retired from the National Guard after eight years. Her husband is a guardsman on the East Africa deployment.

"If that is your mission, that is your goal. You have to do it."

Flores said her husband also spent time away during his last deployment to Iraq. She knows there will be long periods of no contact.

"The best bet is letters. Letters. We don't know what the situation or where he's going to be at, so it's just letters."

It could be as long as several weeks, from her past experience.

The soldiers return home later next year, according to a spokesperson.

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