A group of South Dakota citizen soldiers is on its way to Afghanistan. Family and friends gathered to say goodbye to the 129th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment today in Rapid City. For some it could be their first and last trip to the war zone.
"This is the first deployment for a lot of people in our unit, and we're just proud to be able to serve our country and do our part," Lt. Amber McCarty said.
But Amber isn't facing the deployment alone. She is leaving behind three kids.
"Well, I'm going to miss her a lot but it's gonna go by fast and I already know that," eight-year-old Lily McCarty said.
"It makes me feel like she's really strong and can leave our family happy," nine-year-old Kylee Jo Symonds said.
"A lot of my friends have their mom and dad going to the army or have been to the army," nine-year-old Aiden McCarty said.
"The hardest thing I'll ever have to do in my life is leave my kids, but I made sure that they know that this is something positive and I'm proud to serve my country and they're proud of me and support me 100 percent," Amber said.
And war-zone deployments could soon be a thing of the past, according to the president's State of the Union Address.
"Tonight I can announce that over the next year another 34-thousand American troops will come home from Afghanistan. This drawdown will continue and by the end of next year our war in Afghanistan will be over," President Barack Obama said.
"That would be very positive because it is very hard on the families," Amber said.
It's a sentiment shared by Amber's children.
"I want the war to be over so no more American soldiers can go over to Afghanistan and fight," Aidan said.
While in Afghanistan, the 129th will work with the media to tell the story of what's going on there. As the war winds down, they will also try to pass those skills along to their Afghani counterparts.