HAMMOND, La. (WVUE) - Family members bid farewell to military men and women headed overseas Saturday (Feb. 16), during a ceremony hosted by the Louisiana National Guard in Hammond to honor the more than 70 soldiers prepared to deploy to the Middle East.
Governor John Bel Edwards attended the event.
“They’re critically important in the fight against global terrorism, and when you think that less than one percent of Americans choose to volunteer to wear the country’s uniform, we really do owe these people a tremendous amount of respect and gratitude,” Edwards said.
As an Army Veteran, this is a tradition near to Edwards’ heart.
"Seeing these young captains and young soldiers, there's a flood of memories that come back to me," Edwards said.
Edwards also boasted of the success of the state’s National Guard.
“This is not objective, but I know that it’s true. We have the best National Guard in the country. Both in terms of the war-fighting mission, but also because of how frequently they have to help us with disasters,” Edwards said.
The soldiers will be deployed for almost a year, a first for some - like Chevis Sing.
“There’s definitely a lot of different emotions going on," Sing said. “Just leaving my family for a year. I mean, I’m excited about the experience, and sad about leaving my family.”
Some said goodbye to two family members. Lawrence and Steven Imhoff are brothers, deploying together.
"I think it's pretty cool. He's my younger brother," Lawrence Imhoff said.
“I can’t think of a better mentor to have while we’re over there,” Steven Imhoff said.
Lawrence Imhoff has been in the army for 17 years, while this will be his brother's first deployment.
"I'm not too nervous right now, but it'll probably hit tomorrow when we actually leave," Steven Imhoff said.
The soldiers will spend a couple of months training together in Texas before heading abroad.
“I could not be more proud of our National Guard in general, but of these units in particular. I know that they have been training for a long time to prepare for this deployment,” Edwards said.