Dozens of CT National Guard members celebrate ahead of deployment

HARTFORD --  Dozens of members of the Connecticut National Guard are getting ready to deploy to Southwest Asia.

State, local officials and loved ones held a send-off ceremony for them at the William A. O’Neill Armory in Hartford that was presided over by Lieutenant Governor Nancy Wyman Thursday evening.

“I was always fascinated with the military as a kid and when I turned 18 it was just after 9/11 and it was something that I wanted to do to serve my country,” said Captain David Marcella.

Capt. Marcella will be doing just that as one of 80 members of the Connecticut National Guard when they deploy to Afghanistan and Kuwait.

“We have a very important mission while we’re there to make sure that we’re keeping as many aircraft flying as possible,” Marcella said.

“We’re going to be fixing Snooks, black hawks and maybe Apaches as well,” said Sgt. First Class David Delgado.

The days that lie ahead for the guardsmen and women will not be easy during their 9-month deployment.

However, the Groton-based Aviation Maintenance Group second unit is prepared.

“We have to train on our basic soldiering skills and also our military occupational skills,” Sgt. Delgado said.

No matter how much the soldiers train, saying goodbye to the ones they love and leave behind is never easy.

“I think that’s the hardest part is just being away from your family, especially if you have small children,” Marcella said.

He has three of them. Even social media and cell phones are no substitute. This will be Delgado’s third deployment.

The time away a strain on his wife and three kids.

“I have to stand strong, not only for him to make sure that he focuses on what he’s doing but for these guys,” said Delgado’s wife, Stephanie.

“It’s harder for the family than it is for the soldier,” Delgado said. “You know we have a mission. But now they have to pick up the slack that we normally do.”