Reservists and members of Stephenville's National Guard are preparing for an overseas tour of duty. Nearly 100 Erath County men and women will be deployed on April 12 to support the efforts of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
The reservists will work with engineer operations units to create an infrastructure of buildings, roads and bridges.
"We will be responsible for all the logistical functions of supporting the engineer unit," said Sgt. 1st Class Michael Cummings.
The battalion will join Brownwood troops before departing for Afghanistan.
The last time Stephenville's National Guard deployed was in 2005.
Cummings is proud of his "large and diverse" group of soldiers.
"They come from all backgrounds - from store clerks to executives, schoolteachers and everything in between," Cummings said.
He said the soldiers care about each other and their families, and that their camaraderie is unparalleled.
The soldiers have been training for months to deal with Afghanistan's mountainous and desert terrain.
"I'm proud of these guys, it doesn't matter the mission, they do what they have to do to get the job done," Cummings said.
Stephenville resident and 20-year member of the National Guard Donny Daniels served a tour of duty in Bosnia in 2000 and another in Iraq in 2005.
He doesn't like being away from his family, but his wife, Maria, knows how to cope with the absence of a loved one. She coordinates the National Guard's family readiness program.
Sgt. 1st Class Daniels said it is his duty to serve his country.
"I would rather go [to another country] and fight in the war than have the battle on our homefront," Daniels said.
Daniels will serve as a battalion supply sergeant and be responsible for weapons, food, clothing and everything the battalion uses and needs.
A community sendoff is being organized for the reservists who will ship off to Afghanistan in less than three weeks.
Erath County residents are encouraged to join local leaders on the downtown square in Stephenville on Tuesday, April 12, to wish the soldiers good luck and bid them goodbye. The Empire-Tribune will bring you more information on the sendoff as details are finalized by the Chamber of Commerce.