(WESTFIELD) - Hundreds of soldiers got a Hoosier sendoff Sunday as they prepare to head to Kuwait for a nearly year-long deployment.
The families and friends of 138 members of the Indiana National Guard's 38th Sustainment Brigade packed the Westfield High School auditorium for Sunday's ceremony.
For the first time in Indiana National Guard history, a major command will be led by two women, including Col. Deedra Thombleson, who hugged her husband and two children.
"I try not to say goodbye. I say, 'See you later,'" she told RTV6's Chance Walser. "I'm going to get emotional right now, but, I mean, it's emotional because you don't want to leave your family."
Thombleson's son, Josh, didn't want his mom to leave either, for a number of reasons.
"(I'm going to miss her) food because dad likes to make those frozen pizzas and mom makes spaghetti and stuff like that," he said.
The departing soldiers said they'll reply on modern conveniences, including email and video chat, to stay in touch during their 10-month deployment.
Still, it was a hard farewell for many gathered at Sunday's ceremony.
"We won't get to see him for a long time, and I just feel sad," one family member said.
"It's going to be tough, but we can get through it," another said.
The soldiers will train at Fort Hood for the next month before leaving for Kuwait.
Have a question or comment about a news story? Send it to email@example.com