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Six Illinois soldiers deploy for Afghanistan

The team is set to leave for Fort Bliss, Texas, on Friday and are expected to return next summer. (WICS)

More Illinois guardsmen are heading overseas. A deployment ceremony for the Bilateral Embedded Staff Team A20 was held at Camp Lincoln on Thursday. The six-member team is going to Bagram, Afghanistan, to assist U.S. and Polish forces.

It was a day filled with mixed emotions of pride and sadness as six local soldiers prepared to ship out overseas. While they've been preparing for the day for months, for one soldier and his family, the deployment came at very unfortunate timing.

"Six days ago, Logan was born," said Blair Brown-Bonesz. Blair's husband and Logan's dad, Lieutenant Colonel Ronald Bonesz, is getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan.

The Lieutenant Colonel is the Commander of the Bilateral Embedded Staff Team A20. He said, "I'm very grateful that I had the chance to witness the birth of my son, that I know that he's well, that my wife's well, my daughter is also well. It's a great feeling," Lieutenant Bonsez continued. "I can go overseas, knock this mission out, and get back home to them as soon as possible."

Blair said she feels a bit anxious and apprehensive, but she's confident and thankful for the six short days their family has spent together. "It just so happened to work out that [Logan's] due date was today, and the doctor was willing to induce a week early so that we could have a week, get to know him, get to meet him a little bit before Ron ships out," she explained.

Under Lieutenant Colonel Bonesz's command is the team of six soldiers who were selected for the mission based on their training and skills. "We've been training, we've known about this mission for the past several months, and it's going to be smooth, but the hardest thing will be leaving family members," Bonesz said.

The deployment to Afghanistan will be one to help build the economy and governing structures in Bagram. Major General Richard Hayes, the Adjutant General for the Illinois National Guard, said, "The mission is to advise and assist and to help train up Afghanistan security forces so they can take security of their own country so we can, at some point in the future, leave Afghanistan."

In the meantime, Blair is already looking forward to her husband coming back home. "Ron will be back just in time for when [Logan] starts developing his little personality, when he starts laughing and smiling and recognizing," she said. The Lieutenant Colonel has recorded his voice reading books, so even though h won't physically be here, little Logan will be able to hear his father's voice.

The team is set to leave for Fort Bliss, Texas, on Friday and are expected to return next summer.

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