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Saying Goodbye to Serve: 300 Army National Guardsmen Head to the Middle East

SACRAMENTO -- Three hundred soldiers from the California Army National Guard hugged their loved ones goodbye and shipped out to the Middle East on Sunday.

The Modesto-based 1st Battalion of the 184th Infantry regiment held a deployment ceremony at Sacramento International Airport.

For the families of 300 California Army National Guard men and women, it's a bittersweet moment.

"We say a prayer onto you. For your protection, your guidance, your divine wisdom and your hope through the grief, the sorrows and the great unknown which lies ahead."

For some, the pomp and circumstance of a deployment ceremony clashes with the realization these soldiers won't be home for another year. But some say it's worse without it.

“Without something like this, what it does is it leaves people not having the necessary closure they need,” said Lt. Col. Philip Joel Armstrong.

Armstrong says getting everyone together helps deployed families see they're not alone and can help build optimism.

“We’re going to come back, this is a temporary deployment, but eventually we’ll come back to the loved ones,” Armstrong said.

The 1st Battalion of the 184th Infantry is heading first to Texas and then on to Jordan to train and serve alongside its armed forces to help stabilize the region.

Although the mission is overseas, Armstrong and many others say the reason for serving were right there in the hangar.

“You see these young little children running around, those are the folks, that's why we do this. We love our families, we love this country. And we will do whatever the president or the governor of California tells us to do,” Armstrong said.

The California National Guard will be supporting operation Spartan Shield, designed to deter and react to possible threats in Jordan and across the Middle East.