JEFFERSON CITY - The Missouri National Guard Detachment (Det.) 40 deployed to Afghanistan Saturday. The deployment will be a nine-month combat mission to Bagram Air Base, Afghanistan. Its mission is to fly a specially modified aircraft, the C12, 24-hours a day as part of Task Force ODIN, also known as Task Force Observe, Detect, Identify and Neutralize.
Dozens gathered at the Missouri National Guard Armory on Cooper Drive in Jefferson City and while many swept away tears, they still carried out smiles.
Girlfriend of Specialist Holtmeyer Kayla Beshear is one of the many loved ones hoping for a safe return.
"I'm very happy and sad at the same time," Beshear said. "It's one of those bittersweet things."
Many veterans from the Combat Veteran Motorcycle Association (CMVA) showed their support at the ceremony. Mike Price, a CVMA member, said it's important to show support for the troops.
"To show the solidarity for our brothers and sisters deploying and let them know that not only do they have the support of the military side but also the civilian side," Price said.
Governor Jay Nixon spoke as Missouri's Commander in Chief, noting how important this unit is and how vital the Missouri National Guard is to the U.S. Army.
"Missourians will not only be serving in Afghanistan this mission, we will be leading in this international mission, which gives you some sense the confidence [the Pentagon] has in these fine airmen and soldiers," Nixon said.
Chief Warrant Officer Two, Matthew Sandboothe, said he is excited to be able to help the troops on the ground.
"We join the army to serve our country and to do whatever we can to help them and this is part of our mission, not only as the Missouri National Guard, but also the United States Army," Sandboothe said.
Det. 40 has been deployed twice before and this will be its second tour in Afghanistan.