BOONE, Iowa -- As they prepare to leave their homes for a year-long deployment, family, friends, and the community showed appreciation for the service of National Guard members during a send-off ceremony in Boone.
The ceremony recognized the 180 guard members from the Boone detachment that are part of the deployment. They make up part of the almost 400 being sent overseas--the largest single-unit deployment of the Iowa National Guard since 2010.
Their first stop will be Texas for additional training, but Friday was all about recognizing their commitment to service.
"It's certainly heartwarming to see so many families here to see these soldiers off to active duty. This is a great testament for your caring and support for these soldiers and their loved ones, and the sacrifices that they are making not only for their country, but for each one of us."
For some of the soldiers in the 248th Aviation Support Battalion, it is not their first deployment. Members of the battalion were mobilized in Operation Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, and Kosovo Force Peacekeeping. For others, this is their first time.
"It's a great opportunity. We are making history, we have been training for a long time for this, some people haven't deployed before, you know, they've been in the military for 10, 15, 20 years and this is their first opportunity, and I'm just really excited to be able to lead these soldiers. We've got a great group," said Iowa National Guard member Joshua Gates.
After training at Fort Hood, the soldiers will go to the middle east, central Asia, and north Africa.