Family and friends gave Soldiers of the 204th Military Police Company, 519th Military Police Battalion, 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, the strength to say goodbye at a deployment ceremony held at 1st MEB field May 5.

As protocol demands, the audience stood for the invocation and National Anthem, then watched as the company cased its guidon -- signifying its deployment to Iraq as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Remarks were made by Lt. Col. Scott Estes, commander of the 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade (rear), as he paid tribute to the "Blade Runners" during their final deployment preparations.

He began with the reminder that in September it will be eight years ago that terrorists attacked the nation. "Since that time, over one million service men and women have deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan in support of our wars there. With this deployment, the number of Soldiers currently deployed from the 1st MEB grows to just over 1,000," said Estes.

This is the fifth time since 9-11 that the 204th has deployed. "They have answered the nation's call and each and every time served with honor and distinction. I believe this deployment may be the most important to date because the Iraqi people now stand on the cusp of assuming control of their own nation, security and destiny," said Estes.

He said the mission of the 204th would be central to the success of liberating Iraq and installing a functioning democratic government. "Accomplishing these objectives is not possible without a trained and effective civil police force. The 204th will be training and advising Iraqi police forces to assume control of the security of their streets and neighborhoods," said Estes.

To the Soldiers on the field, Estes said, "We all have complete confidence that you will succeed. You've proven that you are ready and fully prepared to embark on the mission before you."