ROCKFORD, Ill (WIFR)-- The 135th Chemical Company hasn’t deployed in 12 years, and that all changed. More than 100 soldiers in the National Guard marched their way into Harlem Middle School gym to be deployed overseas.
"The 135th chemical company spoke up and said here we are send us, go with god, god bless," Mark Jackson, a brigadier general in the Army National Guard said.
These soldiers leave behind family, friends, and this community to serve our country.
"As national guard soldiers we always have a part of us that is part of the bigger call,” Commander of the 135th Chemical Company Eric Rezba said. “To be selected to go overseas and to step up and answer the call of the nation is huge for all of us."
The company has been training for months to get to this point and it doesn't go unnoticed. Many people gave words of encouragement and gratitude.
"The fundamental strength of the National Guard is that it is a force of ordinary citizens committed to extraordinary work," Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker said.
Soldiers in the company stood and walked in front of the stage to be honored by their commanding officers.
"I am feeling excited, but I am also nervous like I want to be over there I want to do what I want to do and do my duty, but I'm also like am I going to make it home," Sergeant Robert Cunningham said.
The Machesney Park based company will make its way to Texas to train, and then to the U.S. central area of responsibility, an area that covers 20 nations.
"There is no more important people here today then these soldiers that stand before us," Brigadier General Richard Neely said.