71 Army reservists deploy to Afghanistan

Soldiers say emotional goodbyes to family, friends

Published On: Oct 05 2012 03:04:40 PM EDT   Updated On: Oct 06 2012 07:56:13 AM EDT

It was an emotional day for the families of soldiers at Naval Air Station Jacksonville on Friday as 71 Army reservists were deployed to Afghanistan to help coordinate medical units.

The soldiers are being sent overseas to support Operation Enduring Freedom, but before they could leave, they snapped photos with family and said farewell for now.

"We try to take care of our family first make sure they're set," Lt. Sandra Hetzel said.

The men and women being deployed will be responsible for training the Afghan National Army, helping provide medical combat support.

It's a mission they're equipped to handle, but loved ones say it's never easy to let them go.

"Before this happened, I thought I could understand how it would feel," said Maragret McMulland, the mother of a solider deployed Friday. "But when it's my boy, nobody could ever possibly understand how painful it is. It's beyond my grief."

The soldiers took part in a deployment ceremony at NAS Jacksonville, hugging their family members goodbye and telling them they'll keep in touch.

"We'll be Skyping, writing, emailing, everything," soldier Sammi Jo Jarrett said.

That means holding strong until they can see each other again.

"She has been our rock, I just love her so much," said Amanda Drummond, a friend of a soldier deploying. "I'm very sad that she's leaving, but we know that God is going to take care of her."

The soldiers are scheduled to be separated from their family for more than a year, but they say they're proud to serve their country.