ANNVILLE, Pa. (WHTM) – Fifty-three Pennsylvania Army National Guard soldiers said goodbye to their families Thursday and left for Texas to train before heading to Afghanistan.
The Guard held a special departure ceremony at Fort Indiantown Gap.
The soldiers are assisting with Operation Freedom’s Sentinel, which is part of the Global War on Terrorism. They will be away from their families for about a year.
“He’s learning to spell pretty well, so he’s going to text me from an iPad,” Chief Warrant Officer Amanda Nesbitt said about her young son.
Nesbitt flies planes for airlines during the day and takes care of her kids at night but is now preparing to be away from her family to achieve her longtime goal.
“The hardest part is leaving my family, my kids,” she said. “The most exciting part is being part of the Nomads. Sixteen years ago, I dreamed of being part of them and I am part of them.”
“If you’re a stay at home parent and you’re deploying, we owe your family, your friends a great debt of gratitude for stepping up and standing in for you,” Gov. Tom Wolf said. “If you work outside the home, I want to thank each of your employers.”
Some will operate helicopters and others will provide aviation maintenance.
“We know that they are the best-trained soldiers in the United States Army and they are more than prepared for the challenges they are going to face halfway across the world,” said Major General Anthony Carrelli, the Pennsylvania State Adjutant General.
“I think we’re going to be okay,” Nesbitt said about her family.
The Guard says these soldiers will be working with partner units to prevent terrorist groups from launching attacks on Americans.