WESTWEGO, La. - Friday was an emotional day for families of nearly 200 Louisiana National Guardsmen.
The 225th Multi-role Bridge Company, based in Marrero and Slidell, is being deployed to Afghanistan.
There were a lot of tears and a lot of tough goodbyes as the guardsmen prepared to serve their country - many deploying for the first time.
Over 180 soldiers and their family members gathered at the Alario Center for an emotional sendoff.
After mobilization training in New Jersey, the soldiers will spend nearly a year on deployment in Afghanistan.
Their mission is to use their expertise in building bridges to create sustained mobility and lines of communication in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
Many of the soldiers spent their last hours in Louisiana holding newborns, hugging loved ones and telling everyone they know that they'll be home soon.
"They're making me emotional. I'm trying to stand stong, but I mean it's one of those things that no matter how much you train, you're never ready for," said Private Antonio Guzman.
"I've never been more proud in my life. I'm just going to miss him," said Paula Spearman, Guzman's mother.
The company has played a major role in Louisiana by helping out during natural disasters like Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita, Hurricane Gustav, Hurricane Isaac and the BP oil spill.