Posted at: 10/12/2013 11:00 PM
Updated at: 10/12/2013 11:08 PM
It was a packed house Saturday afternoon as friends and family gathered to say goodbye to their loved ones serving with Chisholm's 114th Transportation Company. Sunday, October 13th the Northland National Guard unit will leave civilian life for a nearly year-long deployment to Afghanistan.
More than 1,000 people filled the Chisholm High School auditorium for a ceremony featuring fellow service members as well as Minnesota legislators. Lieutenant Governor Yvonne Pretner Solon highlighted the important role the 114th, also known at 'The Wolfpack,' will play by moving supplies and supporting others troops overseas.
The group of about 140 brave men and women will be an essential part of moving combat ready ammunition, supplies and shelters during their deployment in northern Afghanistan.
Senator David J. Tomassoni of the 6th District spoke about the growing ability for military families to stay connected during deployment through evolving technology. Representative Carly Melin of District 6A noted that more and more girls are in school in Afghanistan now than ever thanks to our troops.
The 114th was previously deployed to Afghanistan in 2009. Staff Sergeant David Wolf says the farewell this time around was even bigger. "The crowd is amazing, this town is amazing to us. We always have a good celebration and send off," he said.
Although this won't be the first deployment for many of these soldiers, saying goodbye doesn't get any easier. Newlyweds James and Angela Woods have only been married for about a month, but they've prepared themselves for 11-month long mission. Their three-year-old daughter, Audrey, was in James's arms for much of the luncheon following the ceremony.
"I think it's going to be hard with Audrey, because she doesn't quite understand and it's hard to explain where dad's going and why," Angela said. "So, that'll be the hardest."
Many of these National Guard soldiers have been deployed multiple times. This will be Staff Sergeant David Wolf's third.
"Third time around is pretty much like the first time around. You still have the same nerves going on, your family is still worried about you," Wolf said.
However, Wolf and his wife Brianne says things like Skype really helps them stay connected. She says nothing beats seeing her husband's face even when he's thousands of miles from home.
"You feel like a kid again on Christmas," Brianne said. "It's so nice to actually see someone's face again and connect the voice back to it," said David.
it's the fourth time Staff Sergeant Joshua Rice has been deployed, but this time it's even more difficult because he has to say goodbye to his newborn son Oliver Alan, who's not even a month old.
"It's more personal, just holding something so small in your hands and knowing you have to leave it right away. It's the best thing that ever happened to you and you have to leave it," Rice said.
Like his fellow comrades, Rice is hoping for a good internet connection to watch his son grow in these first few months of life. "Just staying connected, being able to talk to them is a god send."