It was a big send off at Fort Bliss today as hundreds of soldiers prepared for deployment to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom. Troops will provide combat, medical, and transportation assistance to the U.S., International and Afghan National Security Forces.
Weapons even got a final check before they were assigned to a soldier.
But it was mostly a family affair this afternoon. Soldiers and their loved ones gathered to spend their last few moments together. Children played while their parents huddled for a final conversation together.
"You know, I'd rather stay here with the family. You know, I got a big family. Football season. You know Spring football season is starting up, so I'm sad about that," said Staff Sergeant Kevin McMillan.
Staff Sergeant Kevin McMillan and his wife Shirelle have 5 young boys. He’s been deployed before. Now, Shirelle once again has to run the family by herself.
"Not having his support with the boys at home. That would be the hardest part," said Shirelle.
Captain Eric Rackley and his wife Lisa are two months pregnant with their second child. He says the timing is hard, but he’s proud to serve his country.
"You're getting a chance to do what very few Americans get to do in their lifetime. It is everything. Just a ball of awesome in my opinion," said Captain Rackley.
John and Frantes Vega are newlyweds. They married 4 months ago and this is the first time they will be separated. I asked about their strategy for survival.
"Communication. That's just, that's the biggest part of it, you know. As long as we maintain communication then I think we'll be fine," said Staff Sergeant John Vega.
As hard as it is to say goodbye, these soldiers accept deployment as part of their duty. It’s what they signed up for, and today, they’re off to war.