Arizona Guard Air Ambulance unit deploys overseas

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PHOENIX -- The Phoenix-based Detachment 1 Company C of 1-159th Air Ambulance of the Arizona Army National Guard left Arizona for deployment to Afghanistan Monday. This is first deployment for the unit, which was established in 2006.

The UH-60 Blackhawk medical evacuation helicopters took off just before 8 a.m.

The 23 Arizona soldiers who make up the unit will first stop in Fort Hood, Texas where they will join other company elements from New Mexico and Minnesota for 60 to 70 days of training. After that, they will leave for Afghanistan.

The soldiers are from Avondale, Dewey, Eloy, Glendale, Mesa, Phoenix, Queen Creek, Scottsdale, Tempe, and Tucson.

While the official send-off ceremony was Friday, family members gathered at the Papago Park Military Reservation in Phoenix early Monday morning to say goodbye to their loved ones.

While the goodbyes are hard and there are some tears, everybody knows that this mission is essential.

“Our commander said it well at a farewell ceremony on Friday,” Staff Sgt. McGould of Tucson. “We give life. Because of that, it’s a special feeling. It’s also an obligation. We know that we have brothers on the battlefield that we have to take care of. It’s very important to make sure we do our jobs.”

Officials have not said how long the deployment will last.

The mission of Detachment 1 Company C of 1-159th Air Ambulance is to conduct aviation medical support to military units both in the U.S. and overseas.