BOISE -- It was a bittersweet morning Saturday at Gowen Field as members of the Idaho Army National Guard said goodbye to their loved ones and left for a year-long deployment to Afghanistan.
Specialist Delia Baldwin was surrounded by her loved ones, with her nephew Connor in her arms.
"This one will be the hardest to leave," said Baldwin of her nephew. "That part's breaking my heart. I'm ready to do my job, but leaving this guy, it's tough. I'm going to miss a whole year. A lot happens in a year."
She and about 60 other members of the Idaho Army National Guard 168th General Support Aviation Battalion are deploying to Afghanistan to help in Operation Enduring Freedom.
"I would rather keep them busy over there, so they don't come here," said Baldwin. "To keep them away from the people that I love."
Staff Sergeant Ryan Nelson is leaving behind his family, including his 2-year-old son, and almost 1-year-old daughter.
"That will be the tough part, missing all of her first stuff,"said Nelson, holding his daughter. "But other than that, just being away from them, even all the temper tantrums."
"I think I'll be fine," said Specialist Janica Hanover. "I got some good friends already that I'm going with. I'm more nervous for the people I'm leaving behind."
Hanover said she was sad, but also excited and ready. Her mom, Becky, was having a tough time however.
"She means the world to me," Becky Hanover said through tears, as Janica tried to comfort her. "It's a very hard thing for a parent to do."
As a commanding officer called the unit the pride of the Idaho Guard today, the huge doors leading on to the tarmac were opened, and it was time to go.
The soldiers walked through their loved ones to loud applause, and shook the hands of their commanders and Idaho Governor Butch Otter.
They climbed aboard their Black Hawk Helicopters, and after a quick flyover of Gowen Field, it was time: time to do their duty as citizen soldiers, time to be brave for their little ones, time to serve and time to sacrifice for their friends, for their family, for all Idahoans and for all Americans.
Those soldiers will fly those same Black Hawk Helicopters all the way down to Fort Hood, Texas, where they'll train for about 2 months. Then, they'll put those choppers on a plane and all head over to Afghanistan.
Their mission will be to transport personnel and equipment throughout the country, and give general support to allied forces engaged in Operation Enduring Freedom.
This same unit is regularly called on to help in search and rescue efforts in the area. Last year, they helped rescue two people with their choppers and hoist equipment (a snowmobiler in Elmore County and a kayaker on the North Fork of the Boise River).