LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- It is never easy saying goodbye to your soldier before a deployment.
On Monday, February 19, more than 30 families had to do just that. A group of Kentucky National Guardsmen are headed to Ft. Campbell to join the 101st before they head to Afghanistan for one year.
The Army National Guard has two missions. One is for state response and the other is for a reserve of the Army. We are federally funded and our soldiers provide additional manpower when needed to the active duty. The unit is aligned with the 101st Airborne division headquarters at Ft. Campbell and the soldiers are going to go fill critical vacancies that they have within their ranks for their upcoming overseas mission,” says Lt. Col. Tom Roach.
Jason Gannone is leaving behind his wife Billie, his nine-year-old son Anthony and seven-year-old Gianna. This will be his fourth deployment during his military career and his third to Afghanistan.
Gannone served in the United States Marine Corp before joining the Kentucky National Guard. This will be the first time his children will remember an entire year without their dad.
"The last three that I've been on, it wasn't as big of a deal but it's definitely a little more of an impact this time I think,” says Gannone.
Just three days after his daddy left, Anthony is counting down the days until he returns. A world map on the living room wall shows just where his dad will be. A special clock shows the time in Afghanistan and a message board keeps track of everything he might forget to tell him.
Though he is only a child, the realities of war are not far from his mind.
"My dad is going to Afghanistan and I have no idea what's going to happen there but I know he's going to be safe there. I hope,” says Anthony.
"They have questions too you know about everything so they are a lot more aware now than they were before,” says Billie Gannone, Jason’s wife.
For Billie this deployment is tougher than the rest with two curious children to care for, a family business to run and the stress of having a husband overseas but if anyone has learned the ins and outs of military life - it's her.
They met as marines many years ago.
"We met in the Marine Corp. We were both in language school. He was there to learn Arabic for the Marine Corp and I was there to learn Korean for the Marine Corp,” says Billie.
Having been deployed herself, Billie understands what her husband will go through while serving our country.
"I've been able to be on both sides of that and kind of have a better understanding so it's definitely helped my sanity,” says Billie.
Right now, the Gannone family has no idea how much contact they will have with Jason while he’s overseas. We’ll be following this family throughout their journey and bring you their story along the way.
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