Kentucky National Guard Unit Heads to Afghanistan

CARTER COUNTY, Ky. (WSAZ) -- Troops fighting for our freedom were given a special sendoff Sunday in Kentucky.

When Chas Hanshaw deploys to Afghanistan in early February, he will leave behind his wife Jessica and their 3-week-old son, Preston.

"We've all been preparing for this for about a year now," Hanshaw said. "[That was] before we found out he was coming."

Hanshaw is a member of the Kentucky National Guard's 149th Vertical Construction Company. The unit held a departure ceremony Sunday before its deployment to Afghanistan this coming week. Friends and family members of the soldiers showed up to support the troops.

"They're well-trained. Their hearts are there," Kentucky State Senator Robin Webb said. "I'm sure they're a little apprehensive and anxious, but also anxious to go serve our country."

Senator Webb, who spoke at Sunday's ceremony, has a special connection with a few of the soldiers she's watched grow up. One of them dated her daughter when they were in high school.

Webb said the departure ceremony would make the community aware of the National Guard's role.

"We've got voids to fill when our men and women are deployed, and to show them appreciation and give them some assurance that their families are going to be taken care of," she said.

While Hanshaw's wife said she was nervous about him leaving, Hanshaw pointed out the positives.

"Except for leaving my family and things, I'm excited about the experience," he said. "I know its going to be good to come back. It's something that you can always look back on. It's a learning experience. It's just something to build the rest of your life off of."

The unit deploys next weekend, heading first to Texas and then to Afghanistan. The soldiers are expected home sometime next December.

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