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100th deployment of the Florida National Guard since 9/11

6:09 PM, Jul 11, 2013   |    comments
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CAMP BLANDING, Fla. -- Close to Jeff Chapman's heart hangs specialty made dog tags, on it are pictures.

"One for my baby and one for my wife," said Chapman. This is his 2nd deployment, but it is his first one as a dad.

"I am going to miss her first Halloween and her first Christmas, but hopefully I will be back by her 2nd birthday," Chapman said.

His daughter, Lilleigh, may be too young to understand where her dad is going, but across the room, 14-year-old Matthew Bradley understands his Dad, the commander of the unit, is serving his country. Matthew is going to help his two other brothers and sister keep busy to pass the time of the deployment.

"We'll do fun stuff so our mind isn't on it," said Matthew.

His mother, Beth Bradley, will make sure they don't lose that special connection with their dad.

"We just keep in mind the different ways we have to keep in touch and it is our duty too," tells Beth.

Duty and honor exemplified by the around fifty men and women deploying and their families. They are the 100th deployment of the Florida National Guard since 9/11 and will be going to Southwest Asia for a year.

"It is an honor to be the 100th unit and I am looking forward to going over, doing the job and coming back," says Lt. Col. William Bradley, the commander of the 2nd Battalion 111th Aviation Regiment.

Coming back is something Jeff Chapman is already looking forward too as well.

"The best part about being a dad? Coming home and seeing those big beautiful eyes," he says smiling at his daughter Lilleigh and his wife Ashley, "I look forward to that every day."

First Coast News

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