FORT LEWIS — John Turner Jr., 3, grabbed his father’s soft cap and put it on his own head.
“He likes to copy his dad,” commander of troops Maj. John Turner Sr. said.
Turner allowed his son a few moments with the hat then took it back.
He needed it for the deployment ceremony.
About 75 soldiers, including Turner, from Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment of the 504th Military Police Battalion, will deploy from Fort Lewis this week to Iraq.
“We are a team,” said Turner, who also has an 8-year-old. “We joined the army. We know what we have to do.”
Other 504th units already are stationed in Iraq. It is the battalion’s third deployment of the Iraq war.
In honor of their departure, a deployment ceremony took place Monday at Fort Lewis.
Lisa Hendrickson, 29, held onto her daughter Courtney, 6 months, who wore a camouflage outfit, during the ceremony, while her son, Teyler, 3, crawled up her leg.
“It’s going to be really hard,” the mother said about her husband, Spc. Chris Hendrickson, deploying the second time for Iraq. “There have been tears for two months. We’re going to miss him.”
The husband gave his wife a dog tag necklace with a picture of him and their son on it. She said she will wear it every day.
The soldiers found encouragement knowing they would find a way to communicate with loved ones from abroad. Turner said he has web cams he will use twice a week, so his kids can see him. Lisa Hendrickson said she plans to send care packages to help her husband pass the time.
The ceremony included remarks from reviewing officer Col. Katherine Miller, who spoke words of encouragement to the crowd and soldiers. She said the ceremony was a way for those at the base to say goodbye.
“We’re all so very proud of you,” she said. “We’re praying for your safe return.”
Breanne Coats is a news intern for The Olympian. She can be reached at 360-704-6871 or firstname.lastname@example.org.