Ceremony held for 30 members of Army National Guard going to Afg - KCTV5

Ceremony held for 30 members of Army National Guard going to Afghanistan

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(Betsy Webster/KCTV) (Betsy Webster/KCTV)

A ceremony for 30 men who will be shipping off to Afghanistan for Operation Freedom's Sentinel was held on Friday.

They are members of Bravo Battery, 2nd Battalion of the 130th Field Artillery, so their role will be to provide rocket and missile fire.

“We are doing our field artillery mission," said First Lieutenant Curtis Parkhurst. "So we are going down to shoot our rockets and do our job that we’ve been trained up to do.”

Because they are part of the Army National Guard, they have been giving one weekend a month ever since joining. However, they also get intensive training before shipping out.

"We've done three weeks of training here in Salina, Kansas at Fort Riley, then we have another four weeks down in Fort Bliss to get us prepared for our Middle East trip,” said Parkhurst.

This will be Sargent Shawn Burns’ first deployment overseas, but his grandparents, father, and mother have all been deployed with the guard. His mother is currently in Kuwait.

His father said it’s always harder for the people staying home than those deploying.

“You do get nervous when it's someone else, when it's a family member deploying versus you,” SFC John Burns said. “It's easier to be told you're deploying than to be told your wife or your son is deploying.”

“It's something that I've always been prepared for, that we've always been prepared for, and that's why we train,” said Shawn Burns.

On Friday night, the men will get to stay with their families instead of barracks.

They have a pass for the weekend before they head off to Fort Bliss in Texas and then Afghanistan. They will be gone for nine months. 

The weekend together was made special not by what they do, but who they are with. 

The ceremony was a moment for all their families to be together as they embark on the months-long journey without a loved one.

“I'm nervous about it and also really proud about it," said Khwanta Burns, one soldier's wife. They, like many present at the event, have children. 

“You always have that sense of, 'Is anything going to happen?'" said Shyannah Burns, one soldier's sister, "but you always have to know that God will keep them safe.”

The ceremony was held at the Saint James Academy in Lenexa.

KCTV5's former reporter, Josh Marshall, is among those deploying.

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