Army 1st Lt. Nathan Brooks, a member of a Fresno-based National Guard unit deploying to Kuwait and Afghanistan, knew his obligation when he signed up for the military 14 years ago.
"Part of that deal is to serve when you're called upon," he said.
Brooks, 32, offered his sense of commitment before a ceremony Saturday that foreshadowed the yearlong deployment that he and about 100 other soldiers from the 1106th Theater Aviation Sustainment Management Group will embark on in a few weeks.
About 200 relatives and friends attended the ceremony at the National Guard's compound on East Dakota Avenue in east-central Fresno, which brought mixed emotions.
Grace Carter traveled with family members from San Luis Obispo for the deployment of her daughter, Spc. Martha Lozano.
"I'm extremely proud of her," a teary-eyed Carter said. "It's just hard for me to let her go that far."
Lozano, 45, who enlisted in the National Guard six years ago, is excited and ready for her first deployment.
"I'm prepared physically, mentally, emotionally and, most importantly, spiritually," she said.
Lozano does have one wish before she's deployed -- to see her new grandson. Her daughter-in-law is expecting the child in about a week.
"I'm hoping he'll come out and meet me before I leave," she said.
While deployed, the soldiers' mission will include repairing aircraft parts and performing other support duties.
This will be the second deployment for Staff Sgt. William Van Horn, 37, who will be separated from his wife and five children ages 3 to 16.
"We're a strong family, and I think we know what to do to get through it," said Van Horn.
He is hoping for a lot of letters and Skype time with his wife and children, who live in Atwater.
His wife, Miranda Van Horn, said her children are supportive and as proud of their father as as she is. She understands her husband's service to the country and what it means for the nation's security.
"I just think when you're a military family," she said, "you realize there are things bigger than you."
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