Ashley Kuc joined the New York Army National Guard in high school. She was heading out Friday for her first deployment.
"Kind of excited, really nervous. I'm gonna miss people," said Spc. Kuc, who's from Angelica, and lives in Wellsville.
Kuc's sister, Angela Granger, has been in the Guard since 2006 and served in Iraq. She was supposed to be going along with her sister, but after falling off a roof and breaking her back, will now have to stay behind.
"I'm feeling a little guilty. I kinda wish I was going now," said Sgt. Granger, who lives in Chili.
Kuc and Granger are part of the 642nd Aviation Support Battalion. More than 100 men and women with the battalion flew out Friday for Fort Hood, Texas to train for a month or two. They'll then head to Kuwait. They are mechanics and warehouse supply keepers who will help maintain and support Army helicopter units in the region. They'll be there for about a year.
Many say the hardest part is saying goodbye and leaving behind family and friends. That's something Sgt. Major Mark Wilson knows a lot about with his 30 years of experience in the Army and National Guard. He has served in Bosnia and done two tours in Iraq.
"We eat, breathe and sleep the mission," said Sgt. Major Wilson. "It's a lot worse on the families for the deployment time than it is on the soldier.
Family is more involved in the National Guard or military than it ever has been."
Granger had some advice for her little sister before leaving: never travel alone and carry a knife.
She also hopes for all the troops going that they, "embrace the experience and hopefully it'll give them a better understanding of how lucky they have it over here."