Ceremony for largest Indiana National Guard deployment in nearly a decade

Soldiers and their families on Jan. 2, 2018, packed the Kokomo Event Center to see off 250 men and women in the Indiana National Guard being deployed to the Middle East. (WISH Photo)

KOKOMO, Ind. (WISH) — Tuesday marked the largest deployment for the Indiana National Guard in nearly a decade.

In all, 250 soldiers had their ceremony to honor them before they deploy to the Middle East. They will serve in Kuwait, Iraq, Syria and Jordan and provide resources and equipment to troops.

Soldiers and their families, along with Hoosier leaders, packed the Kokomo Event Center to say goodbye.

That goodbye, though, is never easy, especially when that goodbye will last months.

It doesn’t matter if this is your first deployment or third.

“A little more challenging with the kids than our prior deployments,” said Battalion Cmdr. Brett A. Dunn.

It’s never easy for a piece of the family to be missing.

“I’ll call them when she wakes up, call when she goes to bed. Write them everyday,” said Austin Aucoin, a 25U with the Indiana National Guard.

A Navy veteran, Gov. Eric Holcomb knows all too well about the sacrifices.

“It’s the loved ones who are serving and sacrificing just as much,” he said.

So Tuesday, it was a thank you to the soldiers and their families.

“We’ll make sure he stays stress-free on our end and we take care of the homefront until he comes back,” said Jennifer Allman, whose husband is deploying to the Middle East.

The soldiers and their families put their lives in Indiana on hold to serve our country.

“We have a great unit of soldiers who are very well prepared for our mission in the Middle East,” Dunn said.

So goodbye is never easy. Behind those smiles are some heavy hearts. Others wear their hearts on their sleeves.

“It’s a little tough because I don’t know what to expect. I know I got my kids and I got my husband even though he might not be there physically, he’s there emotionally,” said Krystyn Aucoin, who is Austin’s wife.

But for everyone there’s pride and there’s honor. And these soldiers and families have each other to lean on.

“We are all a family because we all go through this together,” Allman said.

These soldiers will be back later this year in time for the 2018 holiday season. They will be off to Fort Hood, Texas, for some training before officially being deployed to the Middle East.