Sunday was a difficult day for hundreds of families saying goodbye to loved ones in the Nebraska National Guard being deployed overseas for a year. Farewell ceremonies were held in Omaha and Lincoln.
Gov. Dave Heinman was at Omaha's Northwest High School to thank the 147 men and women of the 402nd Military Police Battalion for their service. They will first spend a month training at Fort Bliss, Texas before heading to Afghanistan.
Families said the holidays are an especially difficult time to say goodbye.
“It's a little emotional because I know what I'm going through and I can't imagine what the others are going through,” said Casey Samples, whose husband was deployed. “I know a couple of them just had babies and so it's difficult for everybody.”
“It's the best thing he could do,” said Samples. “It's amazing. I am so proud my husband is a solider. I'm just elated.”
She's been preparing herself and her two children for this day for over a year now. “We just keep telling them that he's a superhero and they don't get it, but it's working so far. Superheroes help people and that's what they're going to be doing."
The year they’ll be away will be one of 23 years that Sherry Baker has been married to her husband, Sgt. Randy Baker. “I met him up in Minnesota, Halloween night actually, so we were together a year before we got married.”
Sherry can't be sure what the next year will be like, but she's wearing something around her neck hoping it will make the absence just a little easier. “I'm very proud of him. Until he comes back I'll be wearing these until he comes home.”
Even those who didn't know anyone being deployed gave what little they could, their signature and their hope for the best. Hundreds signed a banner with their well wishes to the soldiers. “I'm so proud of you and thank you because we are fighting for our freedom,” said Brianna Fleek.
Earlier in the day, about 90 members of the 2-135th General Support Aviation Battalion gathered with family and friends at Lincoln's Southwest High School. They left for two months of training at Fort Hood, Texas before heading to Iraq to help evacuate wounded soldiers.
Sgt. Matthew Hawke knows his deployment to Iraq will be hard on his wife and four children. Hawke said one of the hardest parts will be missing the birth of his fifth child in February.