Soldiers say farewell before Afghanistan deployment - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Soldiers say farewell before Afghanistan deployment

CHARLES CITY (KWWL)--- 35 soldiers from the Iowa Army National Guard's First Battalion, 133rd Infantry Division, will be leaving the plains for a year, but not before getting a ceremonious send-off.

The national anthem played with soldiers standing at attention.  It's a final salute to the friends and family these 35 soldiers will be leaving behind as they head off for a year-long deployment to Afghanistan.

"I think our mission in Afghanistan is very important.  They way of life that we have in America, not very many people get to experience.  And the lives that they experience are nowhere even close to as good as ours," said Derrick Wygle, Iowa Army National Guard soldier.

The farewell ceremony is a bittersweet moment for soldiers.  Some are excited for their first deployment.

"I can't wait.  I'm looking forward to it of course.  I just think I'm really prepared for this," said Christian Bandin, National Guard soldier.

But others have been down this road before and know it won't be easy to leave loved ones behind.

"Being my third time out, actually my fourth time out if you include Desert Storm.  But it doesn't get any easier.  It's always tough, yeah," said National Guard soldier Dan Wilczak.

But the soldiers are focused on the mission and doing the best job they can while in Afghanistan.

"I'll just support him through the whole thing and have hope," said Britnee Wygle, who has a brother that's deploying.

So for these families, this send-off is treasured time, with a few last moments to snap some photos, give hugs and kisses.  They're memories that will be what the families hold onto until these soldiers safely make it back home.

This deployment in Charles City is one of many happening this week.  More than 2800 Iowa Army National Guard soldiers are joining the mission in Afghanistan to help in combat, supporting Afghan troops and police, and helping with humanitarian relief efforts.  It's the largest deployment of Iowa soldiers since World War II.

KWWL Reporter:  Kera Mashek

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