Some 159 National Guard soldiers from Minnesota's 2nd Battalion, 135th Infantry Regiment attended a departure ceremony on Thursday in Austin.
They're embarking for three months of training at Camp Shelby, Miss., before joining other Minnesota National Guard "Red Bulls" of the 34th Infantry Division currently deployed in Kuwait.
"I feel super excited, very excited. I feel very proud. I look at it as an opportunity to serve and stand up for something," said Sgt. Beth Hendrycks, 26, of Mankato. She will deploy for the first time, and says that after serving in the reserves for six years, she's ready for an overseas assignment.
"I mean, you can't beat this. It's an awesome feeling to wear this uniform," she said.
This will be the second deployment for Sgt. Ryan Thon, 34, of Spring Valley. His wife, Wendy, says it's tough to say good bye to her husband of two years.
"We've spent the last week together, just him and I, just doing odds and ends. And it was really special," Wendy Thon said. "I'll just miss him and spending time with him."
The troops hold positions as mechanics, cooks, truck drivers and infantry soldiers. In Kuwait, they'll provide base management and convoy security for troops leaving Iraq.