Kentucky National Guardsmen prepare for deployment

Kentucky National Guardsmen prepare for deployment
Published: Aug. 13, 2023 at 10:15 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Today at Transylvania University, more than 100 Kentucky National Guard members were on hand with family and friends ahead of deployment tomorrow.

“The last time I came home from a deployment, my daughter standing with me was three and a half months old and that was the first time I held her. And so here she is today with me at the age of 10, it will be my last deployment,” said Sgt. First Class Adam Zuniga, with daughter Abigail by his side.

Troops will assist with Operation Spartan Shield, helping to stabilize the region through joint exercises and cultural exchanges.

The day brought mixed emotions.

I’m excited to go, but at the same time, I’m a little bit heartbroken having to leave her and her little sister behind,” said Zuniga.

Today’s event was not just a sendoff; it was also a celebration of the support system that the armed services create for not just soldiers, but their families as well.

“We’ll go for bat for each other and it’s difficult at times when you’re back at home with your normal friends growing up because there’s just that unspoken bond that is birthed with brothers and sisters in uniform,” said Master Sgt. Joshua Atanovich.

The family members and loved ones in attendance served as a reminder that military sacrifice extends beyond the frontline soldier.

“It’s always the small stuff that you end up missing the most that you don’t even think about; going for a ride together and just taking an evening ride, but it’s just the little things,” said Chaplain Lt. Colonel Shane Blankenship, joined by wife Hannah.

Until the reunion with loved ones arrives, a second family is adopted overseas.

“In light of this operation coming up, I wouldn’t want to be with anybody else because they are family,” said Blankenship.

The soldiers will depart for Asia tomorrow afternoon.