March 20 05:23 AM

Co-workers, neighbors, friends headed to Iraq

Groups seek support for send-off of local National Guard

February 04, 2009
TRI-CITY AREA — One hundred and thirty five co-workers, neighbors and friends will soon head overseas to Iraq to serve a 12 month tour of duty.

The husbands, wives, daughters and sons who make up the 464th Quarter Master Company of the National Guard Armory in Lapeer will be deployed in April, and Lapeer area veterans groups want to make sure they're given a proper send-off.

Butch Hoisington, commanding officer for the Lapeer VFW and Lapeer County Young Marines says those groups and the Lapeer American Legion and Vietnam Veterans of Lapeer County are hosting a private dinner party at the Legion Hall in Lapeer on February 14.

They're hoping the community will show their appreciation through financial contributions, which will ultimately help the families the soldiers will leave behind.

Hoisington says a grant from the national VFW is expected to be forthcoming to cover the costs of food for the send-off dinner, so donations received beyond that will go directly into a Family Readiness Group fund targeted for the 464th Quarter Master Company families only.

"It's used if mom has a problem with the electric bill or a dental bill they weren't expecting," Hoisington says.

Vietnam Veterans of Lapeer County set symbolic table for soldier during Moving Wall visit in 2007. The group, along with other veterans in the area are hosting a send-off for local National Guard. photo by Catherine Minolli.
Along with supporting the families of those being deployed, Hoisington says the Lapeer county veterans groups want to show their solidarity.

"As a Vietnam veteran I know how we were treated and for all intents and purposes none of us want these guys treated the same way we were," he says.

"We've all been in combat and we know what these people and their families are going to go through. We want to take care of our people."

He says the dinner—which will include live entertainment and an open bar—is as much for the troops as it is for the families.

"It's an appreciation thing," Hoisington says. "Not only for their patriotism, we appreciate what they're going to do and we also appreciate the fact that they may not all come back."

Hoisington is intimately familiar with all of those feelings. His older son Ryan, a Navy veteran, served in Iraq for six months. Younger son Brett, a Marine, just returned from a tour there and is slated to go to Afghanistan in October.

"My wife and I know what it feels like when you've got family over there," he says.

Sgt. First Class Wayne Rench, who's been stationed with the 464th Quarter Master Company in Lapeer since 2006, says men and women ranging in age from 19 to 57 will make the deployment.

Just about all of them have civilian jobs, he says, which they'll obviously leave behind for a year.

Their mission is laundry, shower and textile repair.

"This is basically a support unit, facilitating incoming and outgoing soldiers with their needs," Rench says. "For them it's almost like stopping at a rest area. There will be maps, things to eat and drink, it will be a rest point of sorts."

Rench, who is also being deployed, says he appreciates what the local veterans groups and young marines are doing to acknowledge the 464th Company's service.

"They're doing an outstanding job," he says. "Hats off to them for organizing this event and going out of their way to make sure we have a good send-off."

The National VFW has donated two laptop computers with webcams built in that will accompany the 464th, as well as a number of digital cameras. The Lapeer County Young Marines, who raised $3,000 in a walk-a-thon over the summer, will donate that sum to the Family Readiness Group.

To contribute to the send-off and family support efforts send a check to the American Legion, 1701 W. Genesee, Lapeer, MI 48446 and note VFW Dinner in the memo line. Checks may also be mailed directly to the VFW, 128 Daley Road, Lapeer, 48446.

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