Illinois soldiers are heading to Afghanistan

By Beau Ebenezer

January 25, 2013 Updated Jan 25, 2013 at 10:53 PM CDT

PEORIA Ill -- It was a proud but sad day at the Army Aviation Support Facility in Peoria.

60 Illinois Army National Guard soldiers are heading to Fort Hood, Texas on Saturday.

After a couple months of training there, the 238th Aviation Battalion will be deployed to Afghanistan for almost one year.

"We are going to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. We're going to be re-supplying troops, delivering troops, and moving troops across the battlefield," said 238th Aviation Battalion Commander, Clarence Pulcher.

For many, it will be their first deployment as a National Guard Soldier.

"It's really hard, I mean I don't know how to prepare for this, and how do you explain to a two-year-old that his dad isn't going to be back for an entire year. That's a long time," said Heather Dunn, wife of a deployed soldier.

Mark Dunn, is a 15 Uniform chinook helicopter mechanic for the Illinois Army National Guard.

Dunn will be leaving behind his son, Joseph and his wife, Heather.

"It's going to be very tough, but I'm sure it will all be worth it," said Dunn.

While serving over seas, Dunn and about 60 others will perform heavy helicopter air movement and air assault missions along with providing maintenance support.

This is the second time the 238th has been deployed to Afghanistan since 2009.

The unit is expected to return home next December.

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