Palin's son leaves for boot camp in Georgia

Governor says she is proud of her oldest child's decision

Posted: Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Gov. Sarah Palin's son, Track, left on Tuesday for infantry boot camp in Fort Benning, Ga.

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The 18-year-old enlisted last week on the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.

Track is the oldest of Palin's four children and her only son.

"I support my son's independence, and I am proud of his decision because he made it for the right reasons - to serve his country," Palin said.

In July, Palin went to Kuwait where she visited the Alaska Army National Guard's 3rd Battalion 297th Infantry, a unit that is made up of about 575 Alaskan men and women.

She said she wanted an up close look at the sacrifices made by Alaska-based troops in the Middle East so she accepted a two-day tour offer sponsored by the U.S. Department of Defense.

Ultimately, it may have been a closer look at what awaits Track.

Palin said she has come to terms with the idea that Track could be deployed next year to Iraq, Kuwait or Afghanistan, where thousands of U.S. troops are based.

Last week President Bush approved a gradual reduction of U.S. forces which stand at the highest level of the war, about 168,000 troops.

"With this quasi draw down, there may be shorter deployments, which is encouraging for Track; in fact, that's encouraging for all of our troops," Palin said. "But more likely than not, Track will end up in the Middle East."

Since her son enlisted, Palin said she has received several e-mails from women whose sons or daughters have either enlisted or are serving overseas.

While proud of their children's decision to enlist, they have not lost sight of the prospects of losing a love one in the war.

"I certainly have thought about it; the mixed emotions we all feel will be something that binds us together," Palin said. "But we don't regret that our son or daughter has made this decision."

Track Palin joins Wasilla High classmate John Bates at Fort Benning. The Palin family threw the teens a party on Sunday evening.

Palin says the party was not a farewell, but a thank you for young men's commitment to serve.

"We want the boys to know that we support them and we've got their backs," Palin said.

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