Arizona Army National Guard soldiers sent off for deployment to Afghanistan

PHOENIX (KSAZ) - Finding out the gender of his baby-on-the-way is just one more thing Sgt. Ryan McDaneld will have to wait for during his nearly year-long deployment.

"She won't tell me the gender, yeah, we're not finding out, it's driving everyone nuts," he said. "It'll be a nice little surprise."

But the waiting is something the soon-to-be father of two is used to.

"I've been in for four years and I've been waiting for this moment," he said. "There were a ton of MPs who wanted to go on this mission and luckily the 24 us we got selected to go."

Girlfriend Lauren says having Ryan away with the Arizona Army National Guard won't be easy, but caring for their 18-month-old while pregnant will keep her more than occupied.

"They worked really hard for this, so I'm excited, I'm ready, I'm going to be very busy so it'll go by fast," she said.

Ryan is just one of more than two dozen soldiers heading to Afghanistan to assist with Operation Freedom's Sentinel. It's a big job that Ryan's father knows his son can handle.

"His whole life has been one proud moment after another," Doug McDaneld said.

For Ryan, it makes things a little easier having a huge support system waiting for him at home and he isn't the only one waiting for an answer about the color of Baby McDaneld's nursery.

"Ah, it's frustrating," Doug said. "I don't know whether to keep the girl baby clothes or not."