DENVER -- About 65 people from the Colorado Army National Guard's Company B, 5th Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group left Colorado for a military mission in Afghanistan on Sunday.
They deploy to Afghanistan to train its citizens on how to fight their foes.
The individuals bid goodbye to their family, friends and employers at Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum in Denver on Sunday afternoon.
Their new job takes them overseas to one of the most troubled areas the local military has been engaged for 15 years.
It is a celebration in which we can’t show you the faces of the guests of honor -- for their safety.
They are special forces soldiers, Green Berets. But they are also computer analysts, like Cody (whose name we are not revealing), lawyers, doctors and engineers.
“The most difficult aspect of being both a citizen soldier and having a civilian job is trying to adjust to being away from your family,” says Cody, as he wrangles with his 3-year-old son Wyatt.
These civilian soldiers will leave their day jobs for nine months to serve alongside active-duty military overseas.
“Some people say you can’t tell the difference. I say you can tell the difference because (the National Guard) are much better. They bring those civilian skill sets that a lot of active-duty forces can't bring to problems,” Command Sgt. Major Bill Woods with the Colorado National Guard said.
“I expect them to go over and do a phenomenal job of training Afghans and taking care of business,” says one of the speakers to the dozens of family, friends and employers in the audience.
They have all come to see their soldiers off, even those who've walked in their shoes, like Cody, who served in Iraq in 2007. Today, he trains the Green Berets for their missions.
“I am close to whole bunch of them. It’s hard to watch them go,” he said.
It’s a celebration with cautious optimism. They are going into harm’s way after all. But it’s what they prepare for.
“You don't join a sports team to practice all week, come game time to sit on the bench. You want to get in the game. And that’s what these soldiers are willing to do and anxious to do,” Woods said.
Two members of this company have died during their missions to Afghanistan. Sgt. Danny Romero died in 2002, while Staff Sgt. Liam Nevins died in 2013.