Send-off ceremony for Independence soldiers - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Send-off ceremony for Independence soldiers

INDEPENDENCE (KWWL) -- This summer thousands of Iowa National Guard members are preparing to deploy to Afghanistan. Soldiers still have a couple months at home, and the community of Independence is using the time to express thanks and support.

Wednesday afternoon at the high school, students, teachers and friends honored substitute art teacher Will Overstreet and two former students, Dean Roepke and Elliott Henderson.

"It can sometimes help you get through the day over there, knowing that there's these people back home that you're waiting to come home to, that support you," said Roepke.

"I kind of had a speech that I wanted to say, but I couldn't talk. It was too emotional. Too much. That's what I'll remember -- just how powerful the whole thing was," Overstreet added.

Students presented several gifts to Overstreet -- including a painting and a quilt. He said he'd like to take the quilt with him to Afghanistan. The soldiers are joining their fellow Guard members in the largest single deployment since World War II.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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