324th Signal Battalion ships out

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They're leaving homes, families, and jobs, putting their lives on hold to serve their country.

Army reservists boarded buses early this morning, the first steps of a journey that will land them in the middle of the Iraq war.

More local soldiers are among 200 reservists from Georgia and South Carolina headed to the war.

This is the first deployment for the 324th Signal Battalion since it formed 20 years ago.

This morning at Fort Gordon, the soldiers and their families and friends all gathered to say their goodbyes, their futures bright and hopeful but still uncertain.

Before the soldiers left Fort Gordon this morning, many gathered for final moments that won't soon be forgotten--moments of sadness, moments of laughter, and moments of patriotism.

A big journey awaits 20-year-old PFC Kevin Kameese overseas.

"Knowing what my mission is...I expect to see a lot and hopefully learn a lot," PFC Kameese says.

Here at home, it is his younger brother, Brian Poor, who waits with his baseball glove ready for his return.

"He's a very good brother," Brian says. "I like to be with him and play games with him and play baseball."

And their mother Linda struggles with saying goodbye to her firstborn and being strong for her other children.

"I just want him to be safe," she says. "We are very proud of him. I want him to grow and show people what he can do. I want him to be able to help others over there. I pray for him every day. His safety. His health, as well as everybody else in his company."

His company is the 324th Signal Battalion, reservists who led peaceful lives as civilians before this week. Now on active duty, they will maintain the largest communications grid in war time history.

But these brave men and women are ready for the challenge that lies ahead. And while far from home, they will not be forgotten.

"I want them to remember what I was like and I'll be back," says PFC Kameese. "I will be back."

PFC Kameese and the rest of the 324th Signal Battalion landed in Fort Hood this afternoon. They will sharpen their communication skills there for about 60 days.

They're expected to be in Iraq by Labor Day.