CHICKASHA, Okla. -- When Oklahomans said goodbye to 800 Oklahoma guard members earlier this month, a church also waived farewell.
Four men who spend Sundays at Chickasha's Trinity Church deployed to Iraq or Kuwait.
One of them is a very important part of the church family. Billy Elkins is the lead pastor. His church and family couldn't be more proud of what he's doing for the country.
Crystal Elkins is homeschooling her sons, alone, since her husband Billy deployed with the National Guard.
"It's hard," Crystal said. "It's hard parenting by yourself. It kind of gives you a better picture of what single parents go through and what they feel like."
Billy is a chaplain for the guard and the lead pastor at his church. He's trading one congregation for another.
He'll have two guardsmen from his church by his side in Iraq, James Heston and James Smith. Doug Brown, another church member is headed to Kuwait.
"He gets to preach to this other group of guys, but still have some from home, and I think that will be a help to him because there will be some friends and buddies that he knows well," Crystal said.
The church will send off pictures with well wishes and care packages and wait for the guys to bring back lessons about life.
Billy's family will wait too, one year, until he returns home.
"We're excited for this year, it's going to be a tough year, a challenging year, but I think we'll all grow, him included, we'll all grow and learn from it," Crystal said.
The church's last lead pastor was also a chaplain for the same unit Billy's going with to Iraq. The former pastor's now in the Army full time.