In a room brimming with tears, love, and pride, the family and friends of 32 Michigan Army National Guardsmen clung to their loved ones as long as they could, knowing it would be months before they would see one another again.
Heather Bush's father is one of the soldiers. She says, "All the emotions, I think, is the hardest part, just knowing that, just him walking out the door and saying goodbye."
"I'm just worried about my son and whether or not he'll know his dad when he gets back," says Carrie Cognitore, whose husband is in the Guard.
Soldiers from Joint Force Headquarters in Lansing are headed to Afghanistan and Operation Enduring Freedom. The group deployed Sunday morning to Fort Riley, Kansas for six to eight weeks of training, followed by a 12-month tour overseas to train the Afghan National Army to eventually take over military operations.
"I know that the training you're currently undergoing and that you soon will receive will bring you home safe. And for that I'm thankful, because I'll see you again. And I want to hear what great things you've done," says state Senator Valde Garcia, (R) Howell/Ingham County.
American heroes, leaving behind sons, daughters, husbands, and wives.
Bush says, "He's definitely doing this for a reason. He's an awesome soldier, fantastic dad. We just love him a lot."
"We're feeling especially proud and very supportive of the whole entire unit that's going over. And we just want them to be safe and come home soon," says Cognitore.