Kentucky National Guard soldiers deploy for farming mission in Afghanistan

By: Tamara Evans Email
By: Tamara Evans Email

They're prepared to fight for our country, but it's a different type of mission they're being sent on. Today at Keeneland more than 60 members of the Kentucky National Guard said farewell to friends and family as they leave on a mission to help Afghan farmers.

It was an emotional day for friends and family of the soldiers and airmen who make up Task Force Ironhorse as they now set to deploy to Afghanistan.

More than 60 members of the Kentucky National Guard's Agribusiness Development Team II were honored during a ceremony at Keeneland Race Track. This is the second mission of this type for the Kentucky National Guard. Kentucky's first team is currently in Afghanistan and soon expected to return.

The farewell ceremony was a first for some, and nothing new for others. However, it was hard on most of the friends and families of the soldier's in attendance.

"I don't even want to talk about it. I'm proud of him but at the same time I'm really afraid", says Donna Cunningham, whose son is deploying.

"This is our second deployment, so this is gonna help me out a lot having her, so it will be easier I think but still hard", says Tasha Chrisman, speaking about her 6-week-old daughter Brooklyn. Brooklyn's father Shawn is deploying on this mission.

The mission is to help Afghan farmers become agriculturally self-sufficient and develop their agricultural marketplace.

"To be a little bit better farmers and a little more prosperous", says Maj. Gen. Edward W. Tonini, the adjutant general for Kentucky.

It's a difficult task to leave, but one they say they can do with support from friends and family.

"The youngest thinks I'm going on vacation to Afghanistan. He gave me a stuffed animal and told me not to lose it", says Fred Bates.

"Words can't explain how proud I am of my son. I'm so proud of everything he's done", says Terry Cunningham.

"She really holds our family together. Without support from families like this, deployments wouldn't be able to keep going", says Shawn Lombardo.

After the ceremony the soldiers and airmen of Task Force Ironhorse left for Camp Atterbury in Indiana. They will be there several weeks before deploying to Afghanistan.

On a fitting side note, today is Military Spouses Appreciation Day, which honors the husbands and wives of those who wear the uniform of the U.S. Armed Forces.


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