EDGEWOOD, Md.  (WJZ)— It was an emotional departure for local soldiers deploying to Afghanistan.

Mary Bubala reports it happened Friday at the Aberdeen Proving Ground.

A 60-member Maryland Army National Guard unit is preparing to deploy. Their mission to Afghanistan will help move troops, supplies and equipment over the next year.

“Like the generation that went ashore at D-Day in World War II, these Maryland guardsmen have answered their nation’s call,” said Maj. Gen. James Adkins, Maryland National Guard.

It’s a difficult moment for troops and their families. They prepare for this day but sometimes the reality of it hits hard.

There are hugs and kisses to give, photos to take and goodbyes that break your heart.

One mom has two sons in the Maryland National Guard. One stays, one goes. The brothers will be apart for the holidays and other celebrations. But their mom has a special tradition to honor the one deployed.

“We always set a place for them, we always put them first, they are always at the head of the table because we know the sacrifices they’re making,” said Ruth Pier, whose son is being deployed.

Another family also has two sons enlisted, and one leaves Friday.

“This is about the 10th total deployment our family has had to do. I hate to say it’s routine but we’ve been there many times. We just want him back safely,” said Jeffery Marshall, father of soldier.

The soldiers are deploying with six Chinook aircrafts.

After one last long hug to a loved one, they started their mission with a final salute to those on the ground.

The soldiers will be gone about 10 months, first heading to Fort Hood to train and then go to Southern Afghanistan for about 10 months.  Most who left Friday are on their third deployment.


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