(WBIR) More than 100 Tennessee Army National Guard soldiers are preparing for deployment to the Middle East.
The 252nd Military Police Company, which is based in Cleveland, Tenn., and Oneida, Tenn., is scheduled to leave for training on Friday, said Niki Gentry with the State of Tennessee Department of Military.
Gentry said 124 soldiers are leaving on a scheduled deployment. A majority of the troops will be based in Afghanistan. They will be relieving troops already there.
Lt. Gregory D. Bishop Jr. of Knoxville has known about the deployment for about a year.
"I've always had a calling to serve people and what better cause is there? I love this country, I love the people of it," Lt. Bishop said.
Lt. Bishop will leave Tuesday, three days earlier than a majority of the troops.
This is Lieutenant Bishop's first deployment. Bishop was enlisted in the United State Air Force 1993-1996. After a 15-year break, he returned but this time to the Tennessee Army National Guard.
His wife, Leigh Bishop, is also preparing for his deployment saying, "It's a little scary. I don't know much about the deployment. This is all new to me but it's a little nerve wrecking but a lot of pride too. So I'm proud of him and all the guys who are going over there."
President Barack Obama plans to end the combat mission in Afghanistan by the end of December. Some troops will stay behind for security.
Lt. Bishop still plans to be deployed for 10 months to a year.
"Part of getting out and bringing troops home is getting everything we have over there ready, all of our assets, the troops themselves. So every job, whether it's at the front-end, in the middle, or at the back-end, is equally important in the military's eyes," Lt. Bishop said.
The troops will be leaving Friday to train for a month at the Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey before their deployment.
There will be a send-off event Friday morning starting at 7 a.m. at the National Guard Armory located at 4185 Dalton Pike, Cleveland, Tenn., 37323. Family and friends are encouraged to attend.
This will be the second East Tennessee National Guard deployment this year. Eighty members of the 1-230th Air Cavalry Squadron left for a year-long deployment to Afghanistan this past spring.