soldiers and families attend departure ceremony in Indianapolis
Several local soldiers deployed to Iraq
Wanda English Burnett, Editor
The new year ushered in a new location for approximately 3400
Indiana guardsmen who were honored at an impressive departure
ceremony at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis on Wednesday, January
2 before being deployed to Iraq. It was an emotional send off
for thousands as they gathered at the dome to savor a few last
minutes of memories with loved ones.
Among the sea of uniformed soldiers were three South Ripley graduates
- Spc. E4 Zachary Teichman, 18, Pvt. Joshua Cumberworth, 19, and
Pvt. Thomas Kimla, 18; Pvt. Nick Johnson, a 2003 graduate of Milan
High School, son of Jerry and Brenda Johnson of Milan; and 2007
Batesville High graduate Pvt. James Stratis, son of Chuck and
Privates Cumberworth and Kimla have known each other for a long
time. Theyve been friends since they were little,
Kimlas mother, Connie, noted. When the two were seniors
in high school, they both decided they would join the military.
Kimla signed up on January 26, 2007, and Cumberworth followed
suit the next day.
The two friends trained for one weekend a month until they graduated
from high school in May. Then, they went to basic training in
July. That training ended in November, according to Kimla, who
didnt worry about being deployed because he was signed up
for a college first program and knew he wouldnt
have to go for two years. However, his plans would change drastically
when he heard that his friend had been called to go. I decided
to put college on hold. I volunteered to go at the same time as
Josh, Kimla told The Versailles Republican. He and Cumberworth
are both in the 76th Brigade, 2nd platoon, 2nd squadron.
Kimla said although hes a Humvee driver, he will also be
doing long range combat security and have his turn at being a
gunner. He noted that the training was intense and he has achieved
his goal of doing something you cant do in everyday
life. He said that and college motivated him to join the
Cumberworth agreed that gaining funds to go to college was his
top reason for joining, but said once he joined, he really
Kimla plans to attend IUPUI pursuing a career in engineering.
His parents, Eric and Connie Clippert, and sister, Kyana, reside
Cumberworth says he wants to major in business and will possibly
follow the career path of many in his family by being a state
Im really looking forward to going (to Iraq) and coming
back home, Cumberworth said, adding, I know a lot
of people are worried because of the war.
Cumberworth is the son of Ed and Jodie Cumberworth of Holton and
Sharon Cumberworth and John Huffman of Delaware. He has a brother,
Joseph, a step-brother, Dickie Jo Smith and step-sister, Katie
Messer. He also has a step-niece, Addison Grace.
Another 2007 graduate of South Ripley High School, Spc. Zachary
Teichman, joins soldiers getting ready to deploy to Iraq. He joined
the National Guard on March 24, 2006, during his junior year and
went to basic training between his junior and senior years at
Spc. Teichman is serving in the 76th Brigade in the Alpha Troop
1-152. He is in the Calvary Scouts and will be involved with convoy
He noted that gaining college funding was also a reason for signing
on with the guard. He does plan to attend college after military
life, but wasnt sure at this point what his chosen career
path would be.
About being deployed to Iraq, Teichman noted, I wanted to
go. I wanted to say I did something. The local soldier joins
the others, who all say the hardest part of military life is being
away from family and friends.
Teichman is the son of Kelly and Robert Garcia of Versailles and
John Teichman of Ft. Wayne. Kelly told The Versailles Republican
that she is coping with not only her son being deployed, but the
fact that her husbands unit has been called up as well.
He hasnt been notified, but could be any day. The
hardest part is not knowing, she noted. Her husband, Robert
Garcia, who is a corporal with the Indiana State Police, Versailles
Post, is in the National Guard Reserves, and he will have three
days to report for active duty once he is called. The Garcias
also have a 10-year-old son, Alex, and daughter, Cady, who is
six. As the Garcias waited for the ceremony to begin on Wednesday,
Robert said he had talked with others from his unit and felt he
would be called to go to Iraq. Well probably be right
back here in a few weeks, Kelly said tearfully.
Some soldiers completed post mobilization training just before
Christmas at Camp Atterbury where they also had Iraqi language
training. The soldiers transitioned from National Guard soldiers
to Active Army soldiers with those in charge saying they are ready
for the upcoming mobilization.
While the soldiers are trained and ready for their assignment
in a foreign country, some loved ones at home struggle with the
change. Hes so young, it doesnt seem possible,
Saralee Cumberworth of Holton, noted in regard to her grandson,
Joshua Cumberworth, leaving. Im really not ready for
him to go.
Connie Clippert, mother of Thomas Kimla, said it was hard for
her to let go, but she is so very proud of him.
When asked to name a favorite teacher or someone from high school
that had an impact on their life, Brenda Strimple was the choice
from Pvt. Kimla. I am honored...hes a good kid,
she noted, when told. Of course, she knew all three of the young
men who are being deployed and had this to say, I hate to
see them go. But, I will be keeping them in my thoughts and prayers
while they are gone.
After hearing from several congressman, the Indianapolis Mayor
Greg Ballard, President of the Indianapolis Colts, Bill Polian,
Colonel Courtney P. Carr, Major General R. Martin Umbarger, Governor
Mitch Daniels took the podium and congratulated the soldiers,
their families, and the Hoosiers who filled the stadium for the
event. He presented state flags and coins to the 76th brigade
leadership. Just before the final benediction, the military band,
Rapid Fire, presented When I Chose to be a Soldier.
At the end of the departure ceremony, the soldiers were moved
quickly onto waiting buses to take them to Georgia for further
training before they are actually deployed overseas.
As the soldiers exited the massive dome filled with family and
friends, American pride filled the area with soft cries of loved
ones who will only be able to hold their soldier in their heart
until they return home.
(Editors note): The newspaper is grateful to the families
who notified us of this event. We want to honor our local soldiers
through articles and photos when they are available. If you know
of a deploying soldier, contact our office firstname.lastname@example.org
or call 812-689-6364, ask for Wanda English Burnett.
WANDA ENGLISH BURNETT PHOTOS
TOP PHOTO: 2007 South Ripley High School graduates and
best friends, Pvt. Joshua Cumberworth, third from right,
is pictured above with family members.
BOTTOM PHOTO: Pvt. Thomas Kimla, is
pictured below with family members just before the departure
ceremony took place at the RCA Dome in Indianapolis on
Wednesday, January 2. Both soldiers said they are ready
for the upcoming challenge, but look forward to coming
back home together as well.