FRANKFORT, Ky (WKYT) -- There were lots of hugs and tears Saturday as family and friends said farewell to soldiers headed overseas.
Nearly 60 Kentucky Guard Aviation Soldiers are deploying to the Middle East in support of the Global War on Terror.
"I'm just looking forward to being able to serve something greater than myself," said Sgt. Cameron Retallick, who is being deployed for the first time.
During a departure ceremony at the Boone National Guard Center, Kentucky National Guard leaders and Governor Matt Bevin joined family members in wishing the soldiers a safe journey.
"I'm so extremely proud of [my son], but as the mom of an only child, I'm scared to death. You do what you can to keep a brave face," said Doreen Mueller, whose son is being deployed for the second time.
After the ceremony, soldiers took off in Black Hawks to Fort Hood, Texas, where they'll receive further preparation.
"We're in a steady-state operation. We'll fall in and relieve the unit in place and continue conducting operations that already exist there," said Capt. Terrell Mcclard, who is heading the unit.
The soldiers will be in the Middle East for one year assisting with air assault and transport operations.
Mueller said she's looking forward to her son returning home.
"You have to stay strong, you have to. Supporting him is what keeps you strong," said Mueller.
Since the 9/11 attacks, the Kentucky National Guard has sent more than 18,000 soldiers overseas in support of the Global War on Terror.