The Georgia Army National Guard 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, which has a unit in Calhoun and others across the state, got on buses Monday morning and traveled to Fort Stewart before their final deployment to Afghanistan. Capt. Mitch Leachman estimated this deployment to last a year.

The last time the unit deployed was to Afghanistan in 2009-2010. This time around, close to 100 soldiers from Calhoun will be deployed.

Before the unit left Calhoun on Monday, a ceremony at Georgia Northwestern Technical College honored soldiers, their families and friends. Present were members of the American Legion Riders, local police officers and firefighters, the American Red Cross, and representatives from the National Guard.

Following the posting of colors by Gordon Central High School JROTC and the national anthem, Leachman shared a few words of gratitude.

“In today’s world it is so easy to be blinded by so many of the issues we see in the media, day in and day out,” the captain said. “But here today, under this red, white and blue we are all united together. And we cannot thank you enough.”

He extended his thanks to local organizations and businesses, the Calhoun Family Readiness Group and FRG Chair Anna Durham, and the families and friends who let the captain “borrow their family members for the next year.” Leachman said it was a debt he would never be able to repay.

“We are here today as more than just a troop of soldiers, we are one united family,” Leachman said. “And we are going to continue to be that family and take care of each other every day until we redeploy and return.”

Training for this deployment started in October and lasted until just before Thanksgiving, according to Leachman. Calhoun is the headquarters armory for the 108th Cavalry Regiment and also serves as home to Company D of the 148th Brigade Support Battalion.

Sgt. Major Jason York of Dallas, recently got back from a tour to scout the area where the unit will be stationed in southeastern Afghanistan. York said the country is experiencing an unstable political climate and the troops will be trying to keep the peace between the Afghani people, the Taliban and the Islamic State.

Leachman said that during this mission, one of the unit’s top priorities is making sure families at home are taken care of and FRG Chair Anna Durham is a great resource for staying updated and getting connected with involved families. For more information, she can be contacted at mannadurham@gmail.com.