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237th Military Police Company prepares for deployment to Afghanistan

  • Captain Sam Weber, of Dover, stands during the New Hampshire National Guard's 237th Military Police Company's deployment ceremony at the Southern New Hampshire University field house on Sunday, February 10, 2013. Capt. Weber is leading the 110 soldiers of the company on the mission to mentor Afghan national police in the Khost province. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Captain Sam Weber, of Dover, stands during the New Hampshire National Guard's 237th Military Police Company's deployment ceremony at the Southern New Hampshire University field house on Sunday, February 10, 2013. Capt. Weber is leading the 110 soldiers of the company on the mission to mentor Afghan national police in the Khost province.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Zaeden Lavoie, 8, hugs his father Specialist Joshua Lavoie, of Nashua, before the New Hampshire National Guard's 237th Military Police Company's deployment ceremony at the Southern New Hampshire University field house on Sunday, February 10, 2013. Spc. Lavoie is among 77 of the the soldiers in the company that are deploying for the first time. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Zaeden Lavoie, 8, hugs his father Specialist Joshua Lavoie, of Nashua, before the New Hampshire National Guard's 237th Military Police Company's deployment ceremony at the Southern New Hampshire University field house on Sunday, February 10, 2013. Spc. Lavoie is among 77 of the the soldiers in the company that are deploying for the first time.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Specialist Breanna Dorr, left, waits in the hallway before marching into the gym at the SNHU field house. <br/><br/>The New Hampshire National Guard's 237th Military Police Company's deployment ceremony at the Southern New Hampshire University field house on Sunday, February 10, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Specialist Breanna Dorr, left, waits in the hallway before marching into the gym at the SNHU field house.

    The New Hampshire National Guard's 237th Military Police Company's deployment ceremony at the Southern New Hampshire University field house on Sunday, February 10, 2013.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • The New Hampshire National Guard's 237th Military Police Company's deployment ceremony at the Southern New Hampshire University field house on Sunday, February 10, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    The New Hampshire National Guard's 237th Military Police Company's deployment ceremony at the Southern New Hampshire University field house on Sunday, February 10, 2013.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • The New Hampshire National Guard's 237th Military Police Company's deployment ceremony at the Southern New Hampshire University field house on Sunday, February 10, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    The New Hampshire National Guard's 237th Military Police Company's deployment ceremony at the Southern New Hampshire University field house on Sunday, February 10, 2013.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Captain Sam Weber, of Dover, stands at parade rest during the New Hampshire National Guard's 237th Military Police Company's deployment ceremony at the Southern New Hampshire University field house on Sunday, February 10, 2013. Capt. Weber is leading the 110 soldiers of the company on the mission to mentor Afghan national police in the Khost province. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Captain Sam Weber, of Dover, stands at parade rest during the New Hampshire National Guard's 237th Military Police Company's deployment ceremony at the Southern New Hampshire University field house on Sunday, February 10, 2013. Capt. Weber is leading the 110 soldiers of the company on the mission to mentor Afghan national police in the Khost province.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Specialist Kimberly Marquez-Torres and the 237th respond to Captain Sam Weber's speech during the ceremony.<br/><br/>The New Hampshire National Guard's 237th Military Police Company's deployment ceremony at the Southern New Hampshire University field house on Sunday, February 10, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Specialist Kimberly Marquez-Torres and the 237th respond to Captain Sam Weber's speech during the ceremony.

    The New Hampshire National Guard's 237th Military Police Company's deployment ceremony at the Southern New Hampshire University field house on Sunday, February 10, 2013.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • The New Hampshire National Guard's 237th Military Police Company's deployment ceremony at the Southern New Hampshire University field house on Sunday, February 10, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    The New Hampshire National Guard's 237th Military Police Company's deployment ceremony at the Southern New Hampshire University field house on Sunday, February 10, 2013.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • The New Hampshire National Guard's 237th Military Police Company's deployment ceremony at the Southern New Hampshire University field house on Sunday, February 10, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    The New Hampshire National Guard's 237th Military Police Company's deployment ceremony at the Southern New Hampshire University field house on Sunday, February 10, 2013.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Gail McCauley embraces her husband Sgt. Kory McCauley. <br/><br/>The New Hampshire National Guard's 237th Military Police Company's deployment ceremony at the Southern New Hampshire University field house on Sunday, February 10, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Gail McCauley embraces her husband Sgt. Kory McCauley.

    The New Hampshire National Guard's 237th Military Police Company's deployment ceremony at the Southern New Hampshire University field house on Sunday, February 10, 2013.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Katelyn Ashburn, 16, hugs her father Sgt. Sunny Ashburn.<br/><br/>The New Hampshire National Guard's 237th Military Police Company's deployment ceremony at the Southern New Hampshire University field house on Sunday, February 10, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Katelyn Ashburn, 16, hugs her father Sgt. Sunny Ashburn.

    The New Hampshire National Guard's 237th Military Police Company's deployment ceremony at the Southern New Hampshire University field house on Sunday, February 10, 2013.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Spc. Breanna Dorr and her brother Jacob, 5, pose for a portrait with "Baby Bear." Dorr is traveling with the stuffed bear, one of Jacob's treasured items, during her deployment for good luck. <br/><br/>The New Hampshire National Guard's 237th Military Police Company's deployment ceremony at the Southern New Hampshire University field house on Sunday, February 10, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Spc. Breanna Dorr and her brother Jacob, 5, pose for a portrait with "Baby Bear." Dorr is traveling with the stuffed bear, one of Jacob's treasured items, during her deployment for good luck.

    The New Hampshire National Guard's 237th Military Police Company's deployment ceremony at the Southern New Hampshire University field house on Sunday, February 10, 2013.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • The New Hampshire National Guard's 237th Military Police Company's deployment ceremony at the Southern New Hampshire University field house on Sunday, February 10, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    The New Hampshire National Guard's 237th Military Police Company's deployment ceremony at the Southern New Hampshire University field house on Sunday, February 10, 2013.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Captain Sam Weber, of Dover, stands during the New Hampshire National Guard's 237th Military Police Company's deployment ceremony at the Southern New Hampshire University field house on Sunday, February 10, 2013. Capt. Weber is leading the 110 soldiers of the company on the mission to mentor Afghan national police in the Khost province. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Zaeden Lavoie, 8, hugs his father Specialist Joshua Lavoie, of Nashua, before the New Hampshire National Guard's 237th Military Police Company's deployment ceremony at the Southern New Hampshire University field house on Sunday, February 10, 2013. Spc. Lavoie is among 77 of the the soldiers in the company that are deploying for the first time. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Specialist Breanna Dorr, left, waits in the hallway before marching into the gym at the SNHU field house. <br/><br/>The New Hampshire National Guard's 237th Military Police Company's deployment ceremony at the Southern New Hampshire University field house on Sunday, February 10, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • The New Hampshire National Guard's 237th Military Police Company's deployment ceremony at the Southern New Hampshire University field house on Sunday, February 10, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • The New Hampshire National Guard's 237th Military Police Company's deployment ceremony at the Southern New Hampshire University field house on Sunday, February 10, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Captain Sam Weber, of Dover, stands at parade rest during the New Hampshire National Guard's 237th Military Police Company's deployment ceremony at the Southern New Hampshire University field house on Sunday, February 10, 2013. Capt. Weber is leading the 110 soldiers of the company on the mission to mentor Afghan national police in the Khost province. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Specialist Kimberly Marquez-Torres and the 237th respond to Captain Sam Weber's speech during the ceremony.<br/><br/>The New Hampshire National Guard's 237th Military Police Company's deployment ceremony at the Southern New Hampshire University field house on Sunday, February 10, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • The New Hampshire National Guard's 237th Military Police Company's deployment ceremony at the Southern New Hampshire University field house on Sunday, February 10, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • The New Hampshire National Guard's 237th Military Police Company's deployment ceremony at the Southern New Hampshire University field house on Sunday, February 10, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Gail McCauley embraces her husband Sgt. Kory McCauley. <br/><br/>The New Hampshire National Guard's 237th Military Police Company's deployment ceremony at the Southern New Hampshire University field house on Sunday, February 10, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Katelyn Ashburn, 16, hugs her father Sgt. Sunny Ashburn.<br/><br/>The New Hampshire National Guard's 237th Military Police Company's deployment ceremony at the Southern New Hampshire University field house on Sunday, February 10, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Spc. Breanna Dorr and her brother Jacob, 5, pose for a portrait with "Baby Bear." Dorr is traveling with the stuffed bear, one of Jacob's treasured items, during her deployment for good luck. <br/><br/>The New Hampshire National Guard's 237th Military Police Company's deployment ceremony at the Southern New Hampshire University field house on Sunday, February 10, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • The New Hampshire National Guard's 237th Military Police Company's deployment ceremony at the Southern New Hampshire University field house on Sunday, February 10, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

For a year, Nancy Mayo has been working up the strength to say goodbye to her son Eric, 24, as he prepares to serve in Afghanistan with the 237th Military Police Company of the New Hampshire National Guard. It hasn’t been easy.

“You know I’ve told people before I’d just as soon be happy if he’s guarding the bridge in Penacook, but that’s my happiness, and he would be miserable. To send him where he needs to be and where he wants to go for his happiness, we have to put the smiles on our face; and the tears we try to hold back,” she said.

She was just one of many mothers at the 237th Company’s departure ceremony yesterday at Southern New Hampshire University. The 237th MP Company, known as the Regulators, will spend two months training in Fort Bliss, Texas, before heading to Afghanistan for a nine-month deployment as part of Operation Enduring Freedom. They will serve in Khost province, training and serving as mentors to the Afghan National Police and conducting joint patrols to locate and defeat enemy insurgents.

It is the company’s first overseas deployment, although some MPs have been overseas before on other missions. Staff Sgt. William Roth was praised during yesterday’s ceremony because this deployment will be his sixth in four years.

Before the ceremony began, soldiers stood chatting with family and friends – some families took up multiple aisle seats – while young children colored pictures to give their loved ones and mothers fastened red, white and blue ribbons adorned with American flags to their jackets. When the ceremony began, cameras were out, snapping photos of loved ones in uniform. Gov. Maggie Hassan, Sen. Kelly Ayotte and Rep. Annie Kuster spoke along with military leadership, with each speaker’s words touching on a central theme of thanks for the sacrifice of the soldiers and their families.

The company’s mission of

training the Afghan police is a difficult yet vital step toward bringing American troops home from more than a decade of war, Ayotte said.

“You all will be at the tip of the spear,” she told the company. “We know it’s not an easy job, but please understand that we appreciate how important it is to the safety of our own country, and we will be there to support you when you’re overseas on your mission, and we will be there to support your loved ones.”

For Eric Mayo, whose mother tried to hold back tears, joining the National Guard was a duty.

“There’s an endless amount of reasons – I couldn’t grow up not doing this,” he said after the ceremony. Mayo is a graduate of Bow High School and the University of New Hampshire, where he was in the ROTC program. As he prepares for deployment, he’s facing a whirlwind of emotions: “Nervous, excited, anxious, can’t wait.”

Mayo is the platoon leader for the 3rd Platoon, a position he said he worked hard to prove himself capable of. In addition to the physical training, he’s been preparing by reading, following current global affairs and trying to learn a bit of the language.

His parents plan to stay in touch through Skype, Facebook and email while their son is away, and Nancy will send him some packages, too.

“I think he’s excited because he’s been training for seven years to do this,” his father, Mike, said. “And I think he’s nervous because he’s about to do it.”

Mayo wasn’t the only simultaneously nervous and excited soldier at the deployment.

Kayla West, 21, of Bradford, works in supply, which are the Guard members who support the MPs on the mission. She was nervous during the training, but now that deployment is here she is more excited. One of her two older brothers serves in the Army in Colorado, and her father was in the Vietnam War.

“I want to serve my country and do what’s best,” she said. “And also there’s great opportunities with it with college, and just helping to build your character and become a better person.”

Her family has been attending meetings of the Family Readiness Group, or FRG, which helps families get ready for their loved ones to leave and keeps them informed about the unit during deployment.

As the speakers emphasized Sunday afternoon, the sacrifices made by wives, husbands, parents and children are difficult in their own ways, and matter just as much as the sacrifices the soldiers make.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you, for sharing your warriors with us,” said Major General William Reddell, adjunct general for the New Hampshire National Guard.

Pride was a word that many family members used to describe how they felt about those who are about to deploy.

“We’re very proud, but obviously you know it’s a nerve-wracking thing to have someone you love go over there,” said Charish LaBelle, whose 21-year-old brother Brandon, of Laconia, is in the 237th Company. “But we know he’ll be okay, we’re praying for courage and strength and safety, and we know that he’ll come home.”

As the ceremony drew to a close, Capt. Sam Weber, the company commander, thanked the families for their sacrifices and assured his company that they were well prepared for the challenges ahead. He told them that they excelled in every training challenge he threw their way, and that they would succeed in providing security in Afghanistan and making sure the country will never be a safe haven for terrorists again.

“All of this work, the sweat, the pain, the struggle, all of our accomplishments have brought us here,” he said. “This moment is not the finish line – this is the starting line for us.”

(Kathleen Ronayne can be reached at 369-3309 or
kronayne@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @kronayne.)

As a father and grandfather I know how she must feel and how my mother must have felt in 1953. WW2 was so different as that was a legitimate war to save democracy my mother knew that Korea was a civil war and none of our business. It made it much harder for her. These post WW2 wars have no legitimacy and it makes it so much harder for a new crop of mothers.

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