Their eyes and sighs told the story. The real life story of friends and relatives saying goodbye for now to loved ones. In all more than 200 men and women in the Army National Guard's 185th Aviation Unit were deployed. Their ultimate destination: Iraq. Their mission: transporting equipment and personnel. Their date of return: at least 18 months away.
"I've been in the Guard 39 years and this is my first year being deployed," says First Sergeant William Harper.
"I'm just ready to get this over with so I can come back and see my newly wed wife," says guardsman Frank Lloyd.
"I don't know what to expect and that's the scary part," says Sergeant Betty Moore.
"It's a dangerous place over there and that's my main concern," says Company G Commander, Major David Morris.
Since the start of Operation Iraqi Freedom, 4,000 Mississippi National Guardsmen have been deployed with all missions accomplished successfully.
While completing the assignment overseas is important, National Guard officials say steps are being taken to ensure that things are also ok here at home.
"We have full time personnel that works in family support and each unit has its own strong family support unit. You know they have to know in order to do their job affectively the soldiers have to understand that we'll be taking care of their families back here," says Deputy Adjutant General Roger Shields.
Although far away, the soldiers say family members can rest assured that no matter what, home is still where the heart is!