CAMP SMITH, Cortlandt Manor, NY -- Just because New York Army National Guard Sgt. Joseph Calleja, a member of the 727th Military Police (Law and Order) Detachment, left home on Sunday, Nov. 27, it doesn't mean his two year-old son Joseph Jr. won't hear from him on a nightly basis.

Thanks to hundreds of community members, dozens of "Soldier" Bears were donated to the unit and each of the 45 Soldiers who departed for post-mobilization training on Nov. 27 were able to record a personalized message to their loved ones.

"This was a wonderful gift. My son will know that if he misses daddy, all he has to do is hug his bear and he will hear me say I love you," Calleja said.

Calleja and the other 727th Soldiers left for Ft. Bliss, Texas where they will spend roughly a month conducting overseas deployment training and receive their final police certification before leaving for Afghanistan. Once in northern Afghanistan, the unit will provide safety and security for operations bases there.

"From our chain of command to our family readiness group to our community volunteers, we have a terrific support group," said Capt. Richard Powell, Commander of the 727th MP Detachment. "They have been with us throughout our training and will remain with us throughout the deployment, so we know they will take care of things here while we take care of business over there."

The unit is expected to depart for Afghanistan in late December, returning back to New York in the fall of 2012.

Page last updated Wed November 30th, 2011 at 11:04