MUSCATINE, Iowa - Today, send-off ceremonies were held at several locations for the Iowa National Guard for its biggest deployment group since 2010.
The ceremonies were held in Muscatine, Davenport, Waterloo and Boone.
In Muscatine, around 30 soldiers are being called to service to protect and serve our country.
Among them is Sergeant Annan Knepper, who's been in the service for 17.5 years.
"Hard worker, she's very good at what she does, she has five children," said Sally Knepper, mother of soldier.
Annan Knepper is not only a soldier but a daughter, friend and single mother of five, "leaving the family behind is the hardest but it will be one year and we'll be home."
To them, holding your loved ones close means so much more when you know they're going to fight for your freedom.
"You're sad but you feel good for why she's leaving and I respect everyone here," said Brice Ronek, son of soldier.
Knepper's five children are proud of her for wearing the uniform to protect the red, white and blue.
"It's hard of course but I gotta do what I gotta do," said Knepper.
Even though this family will be miles and miles apart, they'll be holding each other close to their hearts until their soldier returns home.
"I would tell her that I love her and that I miss her," said Evelyn Knepper, daughter of soldier.
Around 400 soldiers of the 248th Aviation Support Battalion will head to Fort Hood, Texas for additional training before assignment to overseas locations.