Missouri infantry regiment prepares for deployment

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BOONVILLE — Several Missouri National Guard Specialists are preparing to leave for their final segment of training before departing for a year-long deployment overseas. 

The Missouri Army National Guard's Company A, 1st Battalion, 138th Infantry Regiment out of Boonville is new to the Missouri Army National Guard. In January 2012, the company was granted federal recognition. 

Specialists said their final goodbyes to their families Saturday before going into training. 

“I’m excited for the experience and to be somewhere outside of the United States doing something for the country and the State of Missouri,” Specialist Alvaro Pino said. 

Pino is 24 years old, and this will be his first deployment. 

“I’ve prepared with the unit. I’m kind of new with the unit, so I’ve come to better associate myself with all the people, all the leadership, been doing a lot of physical training getting ready for that, and just mission specific training,” Pino said. 

A deployment ceremony was held Saturday afternoon where hundreds of families and loved ones gathered to send off their soldiers. 

"Follow your leaders and they're going to see that you get your mission and all your tasks completed and that you come home with honor," Major General Steve Danner said. 

Danner expressed personal advice he had learned from serving in the past, to the 96 soldiers departing tomorrow. 

Danner and other speakers at the ceremony also expressed their gratitude and pride toward the Missouri National Guard. 

"When that tornado goes through, our neighbors say, 'What in the world are we gonna do?' and the Missouri National Guard says, 'We're here to help you.' We'll help you clean it up forever and, we'll help you rebuild, and we'll help you put it back together," Colonel Gary Gilmore said. 

The soldiers will have the day to spend their final hours with their families and loved ones. They will deploy Sunday morning and begin a nine month training process before being deployed for a year overseas.