The irony of the situation wasn't lost on Melissa Bargeron and the rest of the families attending Tuesday's deployment ceremony for the 63rd Engineer Company.
On the far back wall of the airport's Freedom Hall were hung signs and posters welcoming home units of the 3rd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, expected to arrive at Lawson Army Airfield in the days and weeks ahead.
"I wish my husband was coming home instead of leaving," said Bargeron, the wife of Pfc. Matthew Bargeron.
But the 155 men and women of the 63rd will indeed be leaving for what might very well be a 15-month tour in Iraq.
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"We've known this day was coming for a long time," said the Augusta, Ga. native. "But it doesn't make it any easier."
The company, led by Capt. James Curlee and First Sgt. Victor Goldner, won't be departing Lawson until Sunday.
"But we wanted to have an informal sendoff for the soldiers and their families beforehand," explained Curlee, a Richmond, Va. native who took command of the outfit a year ago from Capt. Edward Allen.
The 63rd is a unit of the 11th Engineer Battalion, commanded by Lt. Col. Paul Owen.