About 40 members of the Nevada Army National Guard left Tuesday to join their brothers and sisters in arms in Afghanistan.
The 1/168th MEDEVAC unit deployed from the Reno-Stead airport, headed first to Fort Hood, Texas, and then on to Afghanistan for a nine-month deployment overseas.
The soldiers, with their fleet of Black Hawk helicopters, will be providing medical evacuation support in the Middle East.
Family, friends, and loved ones waved goodbye to their soldiers as they disappeared over the Sierra Nevada mountains Tuesday morning. The group will be gone for about a year as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.
It was the first deployment for some, but others in this unit are beginning their sixth or even seventh tour. Either way family members said it is always tough to say goodbye.
"[It is] unbelievable that she's leaving,"Karen Gonzales said of her daughter, a Black Hawk pilot. "I just can't wait until she gets home."
"[Saying goodbye] is very important, because you don't know when you're going to see them again, when you're going to get to talk to them again," Shannon Silva said of her husband, who began his seventh deployment Tuesday. "We don't even know if they're going to have internet once they get over there. So we don't know if this is the last time we see them for a year."
They did get to see them one more time, though. The Black Hawks doubled back around for a final goodbye before heading over the mountains.
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