82nd Airborne Division paratroopers departing for Afghanistan
FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- About 350 Army paratroopers with the 82nd Airborne Division are on their way to Afghanistan.
Army spokesman Maj. Fred Hair says members of the 4th Brigade Combat Team with the 1st Battalion 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment left Sunday from Fort Bragg.
Unit leaders held a departure ceremony for the soldiers and their families several hours prior to their departure.
"I'm a little anxious just like any other, but I understand there's a job to do, and we're going to do it," said SSG Christian Starbird.
"I'm scared, but I'm excited to do my job-get over there and start working," added Cpt. Sara Tison.
Hair says a second contingent is slated to depart later in the week. The spokesman says the deployment is expected to last from nine to 12 months.
The paratrooper's mission is to provide base and convoy security for American and NATO forces while deployed in Afghanistan.
"Just trying to stay focused and trying to stay loose if you would. Not think about the family too, too much, but they're always in the back of my mind," said LTC David Pierce.
This year brings an anticipated end to deployments for U.S. Troops.
"It's a little bittersweet, you know. We've lost a lot of soldiers, a lot of sacrifice. A lot of families have lost people and the time apart ... but hopefully we've made a big difference and we move forward," Tison said.
No matter what happens over the next year, end of deployments or not, these soldier's mindsets are the same.
"Just accomplish what I've got to accomplish," said Spc. Blair Shannon.
"I mean I'm proud of what I do and I'm proud of my guys," Starbird said.
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