FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa. -- 53 soldiers with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard flew out of Lebanon County Thursday afternoon.
The soldiers are flying to Texas where they will do final preparations and training before heading overseas to Afghanistan.
Those men and women embraced their families and held their loved ones tight.
They’ve been assigned a 10-month deployment to the middle east as part of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel.
"The hardest part is leaving my family, my kids, my little guy," explained Chief Warrant Officer Amanda Nesbitt of Lancaster. "The most exciting part is being a part of the Nomads which, 16 years ago, I dreamed of being a part of them, and I am part of them."
She is in her 18th year with the Army; this will be her second deployment to Afghanistan.
"Back then I was a radio operator," explained Nesbitt. "This unit, the Nomads, they actually picked us up a few times, my unit, and took us to a few places, and when I was flying with them in the back, I decided I wanted to be a part of the nomads one day."
Outside of the uniform, Nesbitt is now also a trained pilot
Family says they are proud of their soldier and prepared for what’s next.
"This is the first official deployment we’ve been apart, but yeah, I think we’re definitely prepared. We’ve got some great hands and assistance from those around us right now," explained Drew Nesbitt, Amanda's husband.
Some of the soldiers will operate helicopters; others will provide aviation maintenance.
All of them will work with partner units to prevent terrorist groups like Isis from launching attacks against Americans or allies around the world.
"Everything is going to be different, and we’re just going to support the ground guys the best way we know how to," said Nesbitt.
Governor Tom Wolf thanked the soldiers and their families at Fort Indiantown Gap.
"For your bravery, and your sacrifice, and your devotion to your fellow citizens, I could not be prouder to be with you," said Governor Wolf.
Officials say within several weeks all 53 men and women will fly to Afghanistan.
Starting today, the countdown begins for the next ceremony welcoming them back home.