Farewell for soldiers headed to Middle East

Families and friends gathered at Fort Dix on Saturday to see off loved ones headed for the Middle East.

The troops are part of the largest deployment of the New Jersey National Guard since World War II.

About 2,800 soldiers from the guard's 50th Infantry Brigade Combat Team will leave in the next two weeks. Their first stop will be Fort Bliss, Texas, where they will go thorugh training. They are expected to be in Iraq by the fall.

The Saturday ceremony included a flyover and paratroopers.

Sgt. Gabriel Lugo?s pregnant wife, Kathleen, and their 2-year-old son, Aiden, were part of the farewell.

?I?m just grateful that I'm here for this one right now, and God willing, [I?ll] come back and I make it to the next one," Lugo says. Lugo says ordinary things ? such as taking a walk, tucking in his son at night - don't seem so ordinary right now.

And the Lugos already have a name picked out for the child they are expecting: Kiera.What should Kiera know about her father?

?That he's just amazing and he's sacrificing enormous amounts of everything for his children and for everybody,? says Kathleen Lugo.

Lugo says he's just doing his duty.

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