VFW sends troops off with party

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1048 Transportation Company out of Stratford Sgt. Bryan Curtis Jr. poses for a photo with his father 143rd CSSB out of Waterbury 1st Sgt. Bryan Curtis Sr. during the Naugatuck VFW Post 1946 send off party and fundraiser at Hop Brook Lake Park in Middlebury Sunday afternoon for area residents who will soon be deployed overseas. Curtis and his two sons are three of the three VFW members who are deploying in the next few months. –RA ARCHIVE

MIDDLEBURY — Military families and supporters mingled under the shade of a pavilion at Hop Brook Lake on Sunday as they celebrated before bidding farewell to area residents who will deploy to the Middle East in the next few months.

The fundraiser, which will benefit the Veterans of Foreign Wars Military Assistance Program, drew about 80 people for a pig roast, hamburgers and other delectables.

“We had an excellent turnout,” said Mike DeVito, adjutant of Naugatuck VFW Post 1946, which hosted the party.

He said there was a lot of support from the greater Naugatuck area.

Of the six members of Post 1946 who will soon be packing their bags, three hail from the same family.

1st Sgt. Bryan Curtis, of Naugatuck, and his sons, Sgt. Bryan Curtis Jr. and Chief Petty Officer Jason Drummond, will head oversees in the next few months.

“It’s going to be a long year for me,” said Curtis’ wife of 28 years, Lisa Curtis.

This is the second time she’ll be left behind while three of her men are working in war zones. The father and two sons deployed to Iraq in 2006. A third son couldn’t join the military because of a brain surgery.

Lisa Curtis said she made it through 2006 with the support of friends, family, and military support systems.

“Deployment’s never an easy thing for anybody,” Lisa Curtis said.

She said she had to look at it as simply the job her husband and sons were trained to do.

“You can’t let them know your worries here because that will take their minds off their jobs there,” Lisa Curtis said.

Bryan Curtis said he encouraged his sons to join the active duty military.

“I always talked about the military. I never pushed the National Guard,” Bryan Curtis said.

His third deployment will start at the beginning of next year. He doesn’t know where he’ll be heading yet, but his sons are both going to Afghanistan.

Bryan Curtis Jr. said he wanted to follow in his father’s footsteps. In 2006, he did convoy security for the 1048th Transportation with the National Guard.

“It’s a job that I’ve got to do. It will be rough missing the family, but the support system I have back home will help me get through it,” Bryan Curtis Jr. said, echoing his mother’s words.

Drummond is already getting ready for his deployment with the Navy.

Naugatuck resident Mike Beers will leave for his first, yearlong deployment Aug. 4.

“I’ve had a while to think about it and I’m ready to go,” he said.

The other Naugatuck area military members deploying in the next few months are Ray Kloc, Patrick Wagner, Joseph Young, Lisa Young, Christopher Barbuto, and Katarzyna Zarzyka.

Naugatuck Mayor Robert Mezzo and state Rep. David Labriola (R-131) thanked the military men and women, and said they would pray for their safe return.