30 Arizona Army National Guard members get their last kisses and hugs as they embark on a year-long mission in Kuwait. The soldiers got their send off in a ceremony Friday at the Papago Park Military Reservation in Phoenix. The unit’s mission is providing tactical air traffic and ground

control in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. This is the unit’s fourth deployment in the last ten years.

Governor Doug Ducey addressed the troops before his farewell to them, saying he’s “honored, grateful, humbled and indebted” to their dedication and sacrifice abroad, adding, “your year’s work will not be in vain” in the cause of “American freedom”.

Specialist Emmanuel Torres chokes up at the thought of leaving his family behind, but he adds, he’s excited to be embarking on the mission. He says he plans to have “Skype family nights” to keep in touch with his wife, 5 year old daughter and 2 year old son. On the other hand, Sergeant Rodrigo Ramirez is getting ready for his fourth mission abroad, saying his family knows the routine by now.

More than 11,000 soldiers and airmen belonging to the Arizona National Guard have answered the call to duty since September 11, 2001.

—Barbara Villa