Friday, Aug. 20, 2004 | 9:37 a.m.
Friends and family members of the Las Vegas-based 221st Cavalry Squadron expressed mixed emotions at a mobilization ceremony held Thursday afternoon to bid a farewell to the 600 soldiers who are preparing for an 18-month deployment to Fort Irwin, Calif., early next week.
On Monday the unit will take over the mission of acting as opposing forces in training for the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment, which was recently called to duty overseas.
A mobilization ceremony was held outside of the Clark County Readiness Center at 6400 Range Road, near Nellis Boulevard, at 5 p.m., where families gathered to wish the soldiers a safe deployment and return.
Although the soldiers will be stationed less than three hours from Las Vegas, friends and family were still feeling the sting of having to send their loved ones off for longer than a year.
"I know we're lucky that they're just going to California and not overseas -- that's what everyone thinks," said Stacie Sillitoe, who's husband, Sgt. Joseph Sillitoe, will be deployed along with the unit on Monday. "But in a way, that just makes this harder. I mean, here your husband is like three hours away from you, but you know you can't see him."
Sillitoe said the hardest part of sending her husband off is knowing what he will miss out on his children's lives.
"We have a 3- and a 1-year-old," she said. "These dads, like my husband, are leaving and missing these big things. They miss your kids learning how to walk, how to talk. It's so sad to think about. I've been crying all week. But at the same time, I'm thankful that he's not going to be that far from us."
Misty Daniel, 25, shared Sillitoe's mixed feelings.
"I'm feeling a lot of different things," Daniel said. "On one hand I'm relieved that he is going to be just in California, but then you just never know. He might be sent overseas. You really don't know -- no one knows what's going to happen -- and I'm scared about that."
Jennifer Crossman, 26, said that while she is frightened that her husband Preston might be deployed overseas, she is happy because he is "doing what he truly loves to do."
"He's been a soldier for nine years now and he's just real excited to go and do his duty," Crossman said. "So for that reason, I'm excited for him. He's been ready to do this for a long time."
Crossman, who is two months pregnant with the couple's first baby, said she is sad to send her husband off, but mainly proud of him for serving his country.
"This is what he wants to do," she said. "The only thing holding him back he says is me and the baby. But we'll keep in touch through e-mail and cell phones, and hopefully they'll be lenient with him and let him come home to see the new baby."