The 1432 Engineer Company of the National Guard based in Kingsford and Iron River will soon be in Afghanistan.
It was an emotional day for nearly 100 soldiers and their families. As the 1432 Engineer Company prepared for departure at the Kingsford Armory, some soldiers had a mixture of feelings, like 23-year-old Billy Buzzo of Ontonagon.
"A little nervous, excited. Just ready to go, get to work," said Buzzo, Private E2.
After the three buses were loaded and ready to go, the company formed up and marched to Kingsford High School, with family and friends in tow. At the entrance to the school, they were welcomed by members of the Patriot Guard Riders. Upon arriving at the gym, there was enormous applause from families, friends, and the Kingsford students.
The National Anthem was sung, and inspiring speeches were given.
"Even with the knowledge of personal sacrifice and the pain of separation from your loved ones, you have willingly answered the nation's call. Now I have to tell you, you are owed a debt of gratitude," said General Burton Francisco of the National Guard. "As citizen soldiers, each of you reflect the best America has to offer."
The company left in formation and headed directly to the buses. Patriotism ran high as families and friends exchanged one last emotional goodbye.
"My son Chad just left...pretty emotional day, you know? He had to say goodbye to his family, our grandchildren," said Tom Caudill.
The Patriot Guard Riders revved their engines and escorted the buses away. The 1432 Engineer Company now makes their way to Fort Bliss in Texas for training before being deployed for a nine-month tour in Afghanistan.