The 834th Aviation Maintenance Company of the Oklahoma National Guard in Tulsa deploys next week for Iraq. For some of the soldiers, this will be their first trip to the frontlines, a fact that has family members both worried and proud.
Lisa Bender has spent the past four years assembling care packages for the children of other Blue Star Mothers of America, an organization for mothers who have children serving or who have deployed. Soon, Bender will put those packages together for her own son.
John Bender, along with dozens of other Green Country members of the 834th, heads to Iraq next week.
"I'm a little worried, but in the long run, like I said, I'm proud of him, I'm very proud of him," said Lisa Bender.
John Bender joined the national guard at 17. Now at 24 years old, he will see action overseas for the first time.
"This, to him, means what he signed up for; he signed up to serve his country," said Lisa Bender.
Lisa Bender said while John Bender is gone for the next year and a half, she will rely on the Broken Arrow Chapter of the Blue Star Mothers for support. Her friends said they are ready for the task.
"Unless you send a son or a daughter off to war, you do not know what you're going through. Only those that have been through it can help," said Blue Star Mother Susan Franklin.
So, Lisa Bender said she will keep busy making packages until John Bender and the rest of the 834th return to Oklahoma.
"It worries me some, but I've got my faith, and I know God's going to bring him home to me. He's going to bring him home to me safe," said Lisa Bender.
John Bender is currently out of town enjoying a vacation with his wife and unavailable for comment.
There will be a departing ceremony for the 834th at the National Guard Armory in Tulsa at 11 a.m. on June 4.