Troops leave for year-long deployment to Afghanistan

Troops leave for year-long deployment to Afghanistan

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Some family members said they are proud and sad at the same time, seeing their loved ones leave. Some family members said they are proud and sad at the same time, seeing their loved ones leave.
In military tradition, mechanics stood at attention and saluted as family and friends held back tears as they gathered to say good bye. In military tradition, mechanics stood at attention and saluted as family and friends held back tears as they gathered to say good bye.
The first flight of Kiowa helicopters lifted off, beginning the first leg of the squadrons year-long deployment. The first flight of Kiowa helicopters lifted off, beginning the first leg of the squadrons year-long deployment.

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - A group of National Guard members left their Tennessee homes for Afghanistan Saturday morning.

At MGghee Tyson Airbase, many of those men an women from the 230th Air Cavalry unit say they have been to war before.

The first flight of Kiowa helicopters lifted off, beginning the first leg of the squadrons year-long deployment.

In military tradition, mechanics stood at attention and saluted as family and friends held back tears as they gathered to say good bye.

Some family members said they are proud and sad at the same time, seeing their loved ones leave. At a farewell breakfast inside the National Guard base hanger, a range of emotions were exchanged as the 80 member unit was about to leave for Fort Hood, Texas, and two months of intensive training.

Once in Afghanistan, the unit's 36 pilots will fly missions seven days a week, providing convoy security and direct air support to troops on the ground.

The first squadron of the 230 Air Cavalry is the only guard unit in the country that flies the 058 Kiowa Warrior Helicopters. Nearly two-thirds of this unit has been in war zones before.

"There are more veterans in this organization than there are those deploying for the first time. This unit has deployed to Kosovo, to Afghanistan when they had the Apache helicopters and twice to Iraq, so this is not their first rodeo," said Mg. Terry Haston.

Weather permitting, the pilots are expected to reach Texas Sunday. The unit will leave for Afghanistan in mid April.

The mechanics that were left behind fly to Fort Hood Sunday by commercial airline, and a second flight of helicopters that are part of the squadron left from Jackson Tennessee Saturday, as well.

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