Mar 1, 2010 7:35 PM by Kate Mundy

256th Returns for 3 Days Before Deployment

For three days, members of the 256th Infantry Brigade of the Louisiana National Guard will savor home life, before deploying to Iraq for one year.

One Acadiana soldier's family has made sure he's still "present," while away at war. "Are you gonna write me letters while I'm overseas? You gonna send me more hand prints," asked 2Lt. Michael Gaudet to his three year old daughter Annika.

The Lafayette father of three is getting in some quality time before he leaves on Thursday. His wife has also made sure that he won't be out of sight or out of mind. "Jenny makes a good effort of keeping me ever present. In Connor's room there's a big blow up picture of me, she's got pictures of me all over, like the bathroom," said Gaudet.

It's his second tour of duty in Iraq. The first time, he didn't have children. He now has a 2, 3 and 5 year old. 

But now, even when he's busy forecasting the placement of IEDs, they'll still do their nightly prayers with him. "We recorded one before I went to Camp Shelby and they play it every night," he said.

"Dear Jesus, thank you for watching over us," played the digital recording. "That's you Dad," exclaimed Annika. The intelligence officer will also be writing letters and using the internet to keep in touch.

He knows leaving is part of the job, but he'll miss birthdays and treasured moments like balancing his children in the palm of his hand. Fortunately, those times have been captured in pictures too, keeping the fun fresh on their minds, until daddy returns.

The 256th leaves from Lafayette Thursday at 1pm. They will be honored Friday with a special meal and concert at Camp Shelby in Mississippi. "The Lafayette Jambalaya Krewe" will treat the soldiers and their families to music and lunch.
It will be the last time the troops will be with their families before shipping out the next day. It all starts Friday morning at ten.


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