LOCAL NEWS

Utah soldiers deploy to Middle East, rely on technology to stay connected

Mar 26, 2018, 5:53 PM | Updated: 9:54 pm

WRIGHT AIR BASE — Nearly 130 Utah soldiers are headed to Texas, their last stop before deploying to the Middle East.

They’re part of the Utah Army National Guard’s 65th Field Artillery Brigade. The National Guard said the soldiers are deploying as part of Operation Spartan Shield, which is designed to maintain U.S. military posture in Southwest Asia.

Friends and family gathered at Wright Air Base to send off their loved ones. As the soldiers boarded the plane to Texas, many in attendance shed tears while waving goodbye. There’s no hiding how hard the time apart will be.

Military wife Melody Belnap said, “Oh, absolutely it is.”

This is the first time Belnap’s husband, Dallin has deployed overseas.

Melody said, “Right now we have an eight-month-old and a 1 1/2-year-old, so one of my concerns is the 8-month-old may not recognize his dad, know who he is.”

She’s set up pictures of her husband around her house so her children won’t forget him. They plan to communicate as often as they can while he’s deployed.

First Lt. Dallin Belnap said, “We’ll be able to talk all the time over Facebook, cell phone calls, they’ve got WiFi connections set up out there.”

“Back in the day, we had pay phones, now we’re looking at FaceTime. As long as you’ve got internet access, you should be good, be able to communicate more with your loved ones back home,” said Sgt. First Class Scott Young.

This is Young’s first deployment with the Utah Guard, but it’s not his first time overseas. He deployed a couple times before as a Marine in the 1990s.

“Being away from loved ones is going to be the hardest part. But being in the military, you understand this is your job. We’re willing to go. We’re able to go,” said Young.

Melody Belnap said, “We’re very proud of everyone that’s going out there.”

The internet can help bridge the gap for these military families, but they’re already counting down the time until their loved ones return home.

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Utah soldiers deploy to Middle East, rely on technology to stay connected