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Local National Guard Company to deploy to Iraq
Local soldiers are preparing for deployment to Iraq and hope the community will fill up Englewood Baptist Church to wish them farewell.

The 1132nd Military Police Company of the North Carolina National Guard, headquartered in Rocky Mount, will deploy to Iraq in a few months after training at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. Over 100 soldiers are expected to deploy, including Nashville resident Staff Sergeant Timothy Spence.

"I'm just one of 120," Sgt.. Spence said of his deployment. "The soldiers are trained and willing to accept the mission."

Spence began his military career 11 years ago in Halifax County, where he is originally from. His father also served in the National Guard and was his squad leader in Roanoke Rapids.

"Through career advancement," he moved his way and I moved mine," Spence said.

Spence joined the 1132nd Military Police Company when it first formed in 2002. "I've been a member of 1132 from the get go," he said. "I've already done one tour of Iraq."

Spence spent 11 months in Iraq in 2004 and 2005. Over half of his company have already been deployed once. Spence said he is ready for his second tour of duty.

"My previous deployment just added to my knowledge and training of what to expect," Spence said.

The hardest part of going, Spence said, will be leaving behind his wife and three-month old son.

"It's hard but I'd rather go when he's young," Spence said of his son. "But it's something we prepared for all along."

On Saturday, June 16, a special farewell ceremony will be held at 1:00 p.m. at Englewood Baptist Church in Rocky Mount. The event is open to the public.

"We want as many people to come out and tell them how much they appreciate these guys," said Captain Christopher Joyner, Public Affairs Officer.

Spence said the community support both before and during deployment mean a lot. Spence said he enjoys getting letters from school kids and though he can't always write everyone back, he does appreciate the letters and cards.

"The community support means a lot to the troops deploying," Spence said. "It puts a smile on your face. (But) you can't write everyone back. There's not enough time."

"No matter how bad a day you've had, (the letters will) put a smile on your face," Spence added.

Rebecca Murray heads up the 1132nd Family Readiness Group, which serves as a link between the soldiers and spouses of the unit. Community members interested in offering support or finding out the needs of the soldiers can contact Murray at 252-442-7325.

Following the farewell ceremony, soldiers are expected to head to Camp Shelby where they will receive training in current combat strategies before deploying to Iraq.

"The 1132nd is preparing for several military police operations that will be assigned when they get to Iraq," Captain Joyner said. "We're going to do the best we can to train and outfit them and help them do the best they can."

"(Camp Shelby) is an intense training of anything we're expected to encounter," Spence added.

Englewood Baptist Church is located at 1350 South Winstead Avenue in Rocky Mount. The ceremony will begin at 1:00 p.m. and is open to the public.

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