Yerington " About 80 guardsmen from Yerington's L Troop of the 1st Squadron 221st Cavalry gathered at a deployment ceremony Tuesday morning before leaving for training and duty in Afghanistan.
The guardsmen are part of the largest international deployment undertaken by the Nevada Army National Guard since World War II.
Most of the guardsmen assigned to the Yerington troop come from Carson City, Dayton, Reno, Sparks, Fallon and Fernley.
The soldiers now travel to Las Vegas, where the entire squadron has its deployment ceremony before leaving for Camp Atterbury, Ind., for collective or unit training.
According to Capt. Nicholas T. Moran, commander of the Yerington troop, the guardsmen will stay at Camp Atterbury until mid-July before heading to Laghman Province in southeast Afghanistan. They will provide security for a reconstruction team and will conduct combat and infantry missions.
Once the troop marched to Mountain View Park from the parking lot and stood at parade rest, Moran addressed the families and friends who attended the ceremony.
"This is for you. We appreciate the support you give to the soldiers who deploy," he said, adding the tour will last about one year. "This is a worthy mission as a reconstruction team. This will be a great opportunity working with and reporting to other military units that are assigned to NATO."
Moran said the soldiers will be focused on their mission for one year, and that's why the support back in Nevada will be important.
"It's a war zone. They need to be focused," Moran stressed. "But when they get back, they will have stories to tell."
After the presentation of two awards, Moran dismissed the soldiers for them to mingle with their families.
Staff Sgt. James Ditmars of Fallon found his mother, Terri Pearson, and younger brother, Ben.
"I feel proud, proud of all of them," Terri said with her eyes looking directly at her son.
"They looked pretty cool, looked sharp coming in," Ben said, noting he was impressed with a cadence call the soldiers recited while marching into the park.
"It kind of makes the old-timers feel good," Pearson laughed.
Ditmars and his fellow guardsmen still have nine weeks of training left before heading halfway around the world. The guardsmen conducted their annual training in February at Camp Roberts, Calif., 45 miles north of San Luis Obispo, to concentrate on soldier skills
"We're ready to go," he said. "At Camp Roberts we worked on our individual tasks, and at Camp Atterbury, it will be collective tasks."
This will be Ditmars' third deployment. He served at Ft. Irwin, Calif., on one tour and then volunteered for a mission to Iraq.
Spc. Tyler Wood of Dayton echoed Ditmars' assessment.
"AT (annual training) was a refresher for everyone," he said. "At Atterbury there will be more collective training to prepare us for the mission and for us to get back safely."
Spc. Jared Silva, a 2001 Carson High School grad, said he is eager to leave for Afghanistan.
"I'm here to do my job," he said, "and I'm looking forward to it."
Silva, who also received an Army Achievement Medal during the ceremony for going "beyond the call of duty in training," said the additional training in Indiana is something the soldiers need to do.