Determined soldiers will miss loved ones

SUFFOLK soldiers being deployed to the Gulf today spoke of their determination to get the job done despite being filled with sadness at leaving their loved ones behind.

SUFFOLK soldiers being deployed to the Gulf today spoke of their determination to get the job done despite being filled with sadness at leaving their loved ones behind.

One hundred and 60 troops from Wattisham airfield in Suffolk were due to be sent to the Middle East later today.

The soldiers, from 3 Regiment, Army Air Corps and 7 Air Assault Battalion, Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers (REME) are part of 5,500 strong contingent from Colchester-based 16 Air Assault Brigade deploying to the Gulf region following the announcement by Geoff Hoon Secretary of State for Defence.

After much waiting final checks were being undertaken to ensure that all the soldiers had the vital equipment they needed for their stay in the Gulf.


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Father of two Sergeant Dean Heit, 29, who lives in Hadleigh with his wife Jane, said: "I'm a little apprehensive and obviously sad to leave my family but I'm looking forward to getting out there and doing my job. My family are naturally upset and I have sent my six-year-old daughter Katie off to her grandparents to try and make the situation as easy as possible for her."

Sgt Heit said the anti-war demonstration that took place across the world had had no effect on his preparations. "We watched the news like everybody else the demonstration is not for me to comment on. I am just glad this waiting process is finally over but now I will be waiting to come home."

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Father Mark O'Keeffe, 34, who is going out with the troops said: "I feel privileged to go out with the boys. There is a sense of trepidation but the guys are professional there is no doubt about that."

Father O'Keeffe said that the soldiers do feel a sense of sadness leaving their family behind but there is also a sense of optimism about what they have been asked to do.

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