SALT LAKE CITY – A group of Utah National Guard soldiers said farewell Wednesday as they left Utah for a year-long deployment to Afghanistan.
Eighteen guardsmen from the Camp Williams 65th Fires Brigade will train and mentor Afghan police officers along the country’s borders.
Capt. Mark Bryner was one of the soldiers who departed Wednesday, and he said leaving is never easy.
“Leaving the family is the very hardest thing you can do,” he said.
Maj. Jason Wilde said a deployment like this one creates mixed feelings.
“It is a roller coaster,” he said. “We are super excited to go. We've been training really hard. We are all sold on this mission, and we think it's important. And we are happy to go. But at the same time we don't want to leave our families. It's difficult.”
The soldiers are being sent with a mission to help curtail drug trafficking and issues with insurgencies. Capt. Matt Hicken said they are ready to serve in that capacity.
“We are trained, we are good at what we do, we know we are going to be over there with a good group, and we are going to be safe and protected,” he said.
This will be the first deployment for many members of the brigade. Bryner said leaving is an emotional experience.
“It's been something that we've been trying to keep our emotions at bay, not cry. You find yourself choking back a lot,” he said.