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The Patricks took a moment for a family portrait early Tuesday morning as they saw off Staff Sgt. James Patrick after a deployment ceremony for Company C, 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Brigade. Clockwise from left are Patrick, his wife Valencia, Caleb, 2, Christion, 4, and Cameron, 6.

The Patricks took a moment for a family portrait early Tuesday morning as they saw off Staff Sgt. James Patrick after a deployment ceremony for Company C, 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Brigade. Clockwise from left are Patrick, his wife Valencia, Caleb, 2, Christion, 4, and Cameron, 6. (Terry Boyd / S&S)

The Patricks took a moment for a family portrait early Tuesday morning as they saw off Staff Sgt. James Patrick after a deployment ceremony for Company C, 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Brigade. Clockwise from left are Patrick, his wife Valencia, Caleb, 2, Christion, 4, and Cameron, 6.

The Patricks took a moment for a family portrait early Tuesday morning as they saw off Staff Sgt. James Patrick after a deployment ceremony for Company C, 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Brigade. Clockwise from left are Patrick, his wife Valencia, Caleb, 2, Christion, 4, and Cameron, 6. (Terry Boyd / S&S)

Col. John D. Johnson had a few words for 1st Sgt. Mark Lahan as Lahan and about 100 other soldiers from Company C, 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Brigade, boarded buses Tuesday morning for Ramstein Air Base on their way to war with Iraq.

Col. John D. Johnson had a few words for 1st Sgt. Mark Lahan as Lahan and about 100 other soldiers from Company C, 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Brigade, boarded buses Tuesday morning for Ramstein Air Base on their way to war with Iraq. (Terry Boyd / S&S)

BAUMHOLDER, Germany — Valencia Patrick and her three boys have their farewells to Staff Sgt. James Patrick down to a fine art.

“We don’t say goodbye. We only say, ‘See you later,’” she said before Tuesday’s early morning deployment ceremony for Company C, 2nd Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment of the 1st Armored Division.

“He’s definitely a career soldier,” Valencia Patrick said of her husband, tears welling in her eyes.

After tours in South Korea, Kosovo and Hungary, her husband is heading to “a U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility,” according to Army officials. He is among the first soldiers deploying from Baumholder or the Weisbaden-based 1st Armored Division.

In a way, her husband already had left, Valencia Patrick said. With deployment pending to the Persian Gulf for a possible war with Iraq, Company C soldiers had been working a lot of hours.

“He was working last night — all night, really,” she said.

Patrick didn’t get home until 7 p.m. Monday, then was at Baumholder’s Hall of Champions at 3 a.m. for the deployment ceremony.

Coming only a few hours after President Bush gave Saddam Hussein 48 hours to leave Iraq or face attack, the 6 a.m. ceremony Tuesday had a certain finality to it.

Company C is deploying “into an unforgiving environment … that will require iron discipline from every officer and soldier,” Maj. Gen. Ricardo Sanchez, 1st AD commander, said at the ceremony.

If soldiers remain true to soldiers’ ideals, training and corps d’esprit, “you will not fail,” Sanchez said, concluding with prayers and Shakespeare.

“‘For he who sheds his blood with me this day shall be my brother,’” Sanchez quoted from Henry V’s speech before the Battle of Agincourt.

“You are [deploying] for the safety of America and peace in the world,” said Lt. Col. James Boisselle. “Don’t lose sight of that” in the swirl of debate over U.S. policy, he said.

Some of the families took a bit of comfort knowing that the company, made up of Bradley fighting vehicle crews and mechanized infantry, will arrive in the Middle East well after the majority of the 250,000 American troops already in place.

What do family members say to soliders going in harm’s way?

“Love you. Be safe,” said Hope Campbell, smiling.

“Say, ‘I love you, Daddy,’” Valencia Patrick coached her sons, Caleb, 2, Christion, 4, and Cameron, 6. As the children watched their father get on the bus to Ramstein Air Base and dangers unknown, Valencia Patrick summed up her ritual for the final few hours before a deployment.

“I tell him I love him,” she said. “I tell him to stay strong. And I tell him above all things, pray.”

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