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More than 600 Idaho National Guard soldiers leave Gowen Field for deployment

A sendoff for the members of the 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team is Wednesday morning in Boise.

BOISE, Idaho — More than 600 members of the Idaho National Guard's 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team are deploying to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Spartan Shield.

A group of Idaho soldiers also from the 116th mobilized for OSS in November 2021 and will return in October of this year.

The soldiers deploying this week left Boise in two groups, on Tuesday and Wednesday. Due to operational security and force protection concerns, the Idaho National Guard did not publicly disclose the timing of their departure until Wednesday. 

A sendoff for family and friends of the latest group of deploying soldiers took place Wednesday at Gowen Field. The sendoff comes after two years of training in anticipation of the mobilization.

"I'll definitely miss (my family), but it'll be a quick year," said Capt. Isaac Zimmerly.

For Staff Sgt. Tonya Olmos, this is her first deployment.

"It's definitely heartbreaking at times, but I chose to join the Guard and this is what I wanted to join for," Olmos said as she said goodbye to her family. "They're happy for me, and I'm happy for myself. At the same time, there's other days where you're just so sad to miss a full year with your family."

Sgt. First Class Jacobe Wood has been deployed for active duty before, but he says this time will be different.

"A little nervous. This is the first time I've done this with a family," Wood said. "They don't grasp the gravity of what's actually going to happen. to try to explain to somebody that's still in elementary school that you're going to be gone for, you know, 12 to 13 months in a potentially hazardous area and not be able to come home is kind of the-- it's a hard thing for them to understand."

Among those who will be counting the days until their loved ones return home is Sara Rodriguez, whose husband, Martin, is a member of the 116th.

"I got some visuals at home for the kids to kind of count the days down and be there for each other," she said. "He's everything to us... and he does everything out there. And it's -- you know, the unit he's going with is a really strong family unit and I know he's safe, and I can't be more proud of him."

The mission these Idaho soldiers are mobilizing for, Operation Spartan Shield, is a joint mission under U.S. Central Command and is part of Operation Enduring Freedom, which began after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. The ongoing OSS operation is supported primarily by Army National Guard units from around the country.

The 116th CBCT task force mobilizing for OSS is composed of soldiers from Idaho, Montana, Oregon and South Carolina. The deployment is expected to last about one year. Before going to Southwest Asia, the soldiers mobilizing Wednesday will receive another 45 days of stateside training.

The 116th Cavalry Brigade Combat Team is the Idaho Army National Guard's largest unit. Members of the brigade deployed to Iraq in 2004 and 2010.

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