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AZ National Guard team honored with send-off ceremony before deployment

A ceremony was held Sunday at the Papago Park Military Reservation as National Guard members prepared for deployment overseas.

PHOENIX — It was an emotional farewell for the family and friends of an Arizona National Guard team who are preparing to deploy overseas.  

Sunday loved ones came together for a touching ceremony ahead of their departure.   

In honor of Arizona National Guard service members, as they prepare to deploy overseas, a special ceremony was held at the Papago Park Military Reservation in Phoenix led by the Department of Emergency and Military Affairs Director and Arizona’s Adjutant General. 

Some service members like Kasey Dunlap’s husband Jacob, are saying goodbye to their little ones for a while. Their daughter Ember just celebrated her first birthday.  

“She’s a daddy’s girl and so just thinking how much she’s going to miss him.” she said. “She crawls around the house looking for him when he’s at work, so now it’s going to be a little harder.”  

Of course, they’ll miss dad terribly, but Dunlap is hopeful her husband will be able to accomplish a lot while he’s away.   

“That he learns a lot and that he has fun,” she said.  

For others like military intelligence officer 2nd Lt. Patrick Hodges, this is his first deployment.  

Hodges is continuing a family tradition of serving in the military. His father, grandfather, aunts, and uncles all served.  

“I felt like it was my time to step up as well,” Hodges said. “I’m the first officer in our family, so I just wanted to take the reins and go from the stripes to the bars.” 

They are part of nearly a dozen military men and women who make up the 123rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment. On this mission, they plan to document U.S. Forces and Allies across the U.S. European Command area of responsibility.   

The team brings unique public affairs, photo, and broadcast journalism capabilities to tell the service member’s story to a worldwide audience.  

So, while these service members prepare to head out, they can be sure they have a lot of love and support from family and friends waiting for them when they return home in nine months. 

“I hope that she gets the adventure and the enjoyment and all the things that she’s put into the organization, I hope that she gets that out of the deployment,” said Sara Fernandez, who is sending off a close friend.  

And of course, that means more than words can say. 

“It’s definitely overwhelming, but I feel very blessed and grateful that I have people to be there for me and support me in my life and in my career,” said Mykaela Martin, who’s getting ready for her first deployment.  

This team’s service is once again demonstrating how the Arizona National Guard is always ready and always there, to be the primary combat reserve for the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force.   

This will be the 123rd’s fourth deployment since the Sept. 11 attacks. Best of luck on your journey and thank you for your service! 

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