(WLBT) - Twenty soldiers with the 102nd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, or MPAD, received words of encouragement for the deployment ahead of them. Then, it was time to say goodbye to their loved ones.
"My daughter's getting ready to deploy. I'm not really ready for that, but I know she is, so I'm trying to be very supportive of her," said Shanta Thompson.
With Sergeant Phyllis Thompson leaving with the 102nd, both of Shanta's daughters are now deployed for Operation Enduring Freedom.
"I'm very proud of both of them you know, for doing what they do, serving the country," Shanta said.
Phyllis says saying goodbye to her mother is tough.
"It's my best friend. It will be hard," she said.
Staff Sergeant Lamont Bradford feels lucky.
"I have my mom with me, my wife, my youngest of five sons," he explained.
Bradford got to see the birth of his son, 3-month-old Jonathan, before leaving.
"I've told my wife for years that it's not the choice of if I go, but when I go. I've been blessed to hold off this long. This will be my first deployment," he said.
The commander of the unit, Major Brooks Little, will also say goodbye to a baby. He will miss his 2-month-old daughter, his 4-year-old son, and his wife. But he is upbeat about his unit, split evenly between men and women, and the job they will do.
"They will prepare news stories, releases, they will do features for specific soldiers in theater. If they find something interesting it will also give an opportunity for local media back here to understand what we're doing forward," Commander Little said.
The unit heads first to Fort Dix, New Jersey, then to Afghanistan.