SALT LAKE CITY -- Members of the Utah National Guard left their families Sunday as they started a 10-month deployment in the Middle East.
The 99 soldiers are members of the 1st Battalion, 145th Army Artillery, part of Utah’s oldest military organization.
The guard members will provide security and take part in military missions with Middle Eastern partners.
“It speaks volumes to their character that they will be willing to make this sacrifice for their country and state,” said Major David Johnson, the battery commander who will lead the troops during what will be his fourth deployment. “It’s not just the families of the soldiers who are proud, but it is something that we should all be proud of, their sacrifices and the challenges they will face.”
This is the second deployment for Sergeant First Class Raymond Carter. He will miss watching the birth of his fourth child in January.
“My wife is just an incredible individual,” Carter said. “Without the support of the family, none of this would be possible.”
Carter’s wife Shyanne said she has been trying to be prepared to have her husband gone for so long.
“I think inside I’m a bit of a wreck, but I am trying to keep it together,” she said. “We love him. We support him, and we want him to come home safe.”
The Carters also sold their family business, a women’s boutique, so more time could be spent with the children while one parent is gone.
“Serving my country is a more important to than running a business,” added Raymond Carter.
Utah’s First Battalion has about 500 soldiers, and nearly all of them volunteered for this deployment. A total of 99 soldiers will be deployed this year and another 99 soldiers next year.
The deployment always comes with risks. In August, Utah National Guard Member Aaron Butler was killed after entering a booby-trapped building in Afghanistan.
Staff Sergeant Mark Picket is leaving behind his wife, his five children and his job as a postal worker.
“It’s a sacrifice for a lot of us but we knew it was coming so we were ready for it,” Pickett said.
Picket’s wife Michelle has also been preparing for the time her husband would leave.
“It’s definitely not easy, but this is what he’s trained to do and loves doing, so we support him while he’s off serving our country,” she said.