Arizona National Guard soldiers set to deploy overseas

PHOENIX (KSAZ) - With bowed heads and heavy hearts, family, friends, and fellow servicemen and women filled the Allen Readiness Center, as a brave brigade of 600 soldiers prepared to go on a mission overseas.

"We are proud of our heritage, but ever mindful of the sacrifices made by our soldiers and family in the name of freedom."

On Sunday, these soldiers, the 198th Regional Group of the Arizona Army National Guard, will deploy for one year to support the U.S. Army Central Command -- the first group to be deployed since 9/11, 17 years ago.

"I think each of us needs to take a moment today, give each one of them a handshake or a hug and tell them that full weight and support of the patriotic capitol of every citizen of the great state of Arizona and this nation is behind them as they go forward," said Major General Michael T. McGuire of the Arizona Army National Guard.

Families and friends sent off loved ones with sweet goodbyes as these soldiers prepare to serve our country.

"Our family is all here to support us and we're going to make sure we come back safe and sound to our family," said Vannessa Lupercio of the Arizona Army National Guard.