Less than a month before Christmas, thousands of men and women from across Georgia will be leaving their family and friends on Monday to travel abroad with the armed forces.
Among those thousands of Georgians, hundreds of local soldiers of the Georgia Army National Guard 3rd Battalion, 121st Infantry will be leaving their families, too, to start a nine-month deployment in Afghanistan.
In honor of these men and women, the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office has asked local residents from all over the county to come out on Monday morning, to line the roadways in Cumming and show the community’s support of soldiers and their families.
"I just think that if this community could give a good turnout for them, it will speak volumes for who we are," said Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman. "Here we are in the holiday season and we have hundreds of soldiers who are leaving their families and loved ones, with the intent of going overseas to defend our ability to be here. I think it's really important for us to be there."
According to a Facebook post by the sheriff’s office, the deployment will start with a ceremony at the Cumming Regional Readiness Center at 100 Aquatic Circle at 9 a.m. and will travel through Cumming via Pilgrim Mill Road, Hwy. 9, Hwy. 20 and Veterans Memorial Blvd., before heading south on Ga. 400.
“We are asking citizens and businesses to line the streets along their route, beginning at 11 a.m. on Monday Nov. 26, to show appreciation to the solders as they depart after the ceremony,” the post states. “Bring your American Flags, signs of appreciation and well wishes.”
Roughly 600 soldiers from the north Georgia area will deploy from the Cumming Regional Readiness Center, according to Sgt. 1st Class Joshua Jacobs, officer in charge of operations for the Army National Guard, 3rd Battalion, 121st Infantry stationed in Cumming.
Jacobs said that this local departure is part of a deployment of several thousand soldiers from across the state. According to Jacobs, soldiers from the Cumming armory will first travel to Fort Stewart in southeast Georgia for training before their official deployment overseas.
This will be the first time that the Cumming armory has been deployed since 2008, he said.
Jacobs said that from a soldier’s point of view, seeing that display of support from the community is huge and in many less populated or more rural places, it wouldn’t be something they could naturally expect.
And once they are gone, he said they will know that their family has a community to rely on.
"For those of us who have families and kids that live in the community, it means that our families are going to be taken care of while we are gone," he said. "It's the foundation that lets us know that what we are doing means something."
According to Freeman, this deployment is being felt especially by the sheriff’s office. Of the thousands in Georgia preparing to deploy are three Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office deputies – “dual servants,” Freeman called them – that will soon be leaving their law enforcement jobs to be deployed.
"It hits home to us a lot, with almost 90 veterans working inside of the sheriff's office and three of our own in pre-deployment training,” Freeman said. “We know that we are going to be losing them for a period of time as they go overseas to serve."