Soldier Send Off | VideoJennifer Joas | 1/16/2013
It was an emotional day in Bismarck as eight National Guard soldiers officially began parting ways with their families to serve overseas in Afghanistan.
"It`s great to have my family here. This starts to become a little more real to them as we are able to see that there is support," said Aviation Safety Officer Mark Schlafman.
Schlafman was surrounded by his family at the sendoff. He previously served stateside in Washington, and overseas in Africa. Although this is his first time to Afghanistan, he doesn`t think the deployment will be much different. "We`re trained very well when we go over there. They take care of us while we`re there. There`s activity that goes on everywhere. So we should be good."
Another fellow soldier says he`s always wanted to go to Afghanistan.
"I know that there`s a lot of good opportunities over there for soldiers to do good things. Especially now that they say the war is winding down. It`s a nice time for us to go over there and show the people what we can do from North Dakota," said Company 1st Sergeant Russell Garrett.
The unit specializes in flying aircraft equipped with surveillance equipment for crews on the ground. The governor says in addition to their specialized training, the National Guard has always been willing to serve.
"You have shown, in our flood fights, that you are invaluable to the people of North Dakota a great treasure to our state," said Governor Jack Dalrymple.
The soldiers will be deployed for a year. They head to Indiana for more training before heading overseas. For two of the soldiers, it`s their first time being deployed.