By Jim Melwert, Jenn Bernstein
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Approximately 300 soldiers from the Pennsylvania National Guard are preparing to deploy to Kuwait. There was a departure ceremony in their honor Friday morning.READ MORE: Allegations Of Sexual Misconduct Involving Ocean City Beach Patrol Members Under Investigation
Troop A and B of the 1-104th Cavalry Squadron, part of the 55th Heavy Brigade Combat Team, will head to Kuwait to perform security operations.
They will help support ongoing missions in Afghanistan, and bases in the region. “They’re going to provide security for that, security for convoys, and security for the basic region as well,” said Major General Wesley Craig.
As Sergeant Kelly Miranda gathered her gear in the parking lot of the Southampton Armory in Northeast Philadelphia, her parents were at her side. “The emotions are very hard, but we’re very, very proud,” her mother said.
For Miranda, it will be her third deployment with the National Guard. She says it is a challenge balancing it with work, education, family and relationships.
“But I enjoy it. I wouldn’t be in 11 years if I didn’t. This is what I do.”READ MORE: Multiple Faiths Joining Forces To Combat Philadelphia's Rising Gun Violence
Major Rich Howett says soldiers with the 1st Squadron-104th Cavalry will focus on base security in Kuwait, and he says the deployments aren’t uncommon.
“Pennsylvania is one of the largest National Guards in the United States, and I think there is a greater — what I would refer to as an operation force posture for the National Guard as compared to the past. We’re no longer a strategic force, we are an operational force.”
As these soldiers head off to defend our country, these last minutes are bittersweet for their families. It’s a reminder of how much they are sacrificing to keep America safe.
“It’s definitely not easy, this is our second tour,” said Ginger Seibert, who’s sending off her husband, Sergeant Eric Seibert.
“It’s going to be a nice goodbye for once,” said Sgt. Seibert. “This time we get a little bit more time to say goodbye.”MORE NEWS: 2 Mothers, Babies Rushed To Hospital After Being Rescued From Burning Frankford Apartment Building, Officials Say
The soldiers will train at Camp Shelby in Mississippi for two months, before they head to Kuwait.