More than 2 dozen members of National Guard begin journey to Afghanistan

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It was an emotional day at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst as more than two dozen members of New Jersey's National Guard took off to begin their journey halfway around the world.

Twenty-nine members of the 171st air aviation medevac unit are now flying their first leg of a journey, which will eventually take them to Afghanistan.

Hugs, tears and goodbyes where exchanged between the National Guard members and their families as they prepared and made the final checks and adjustments to three Blackhawk helicopters. 

Their mission will be to oversee specialized evacuation of injured troops in the battlefield in Afghanistan.

"To be a part of so many different communities and reach out and just learn so many different cultures it is something that you can bring home and you can look at your community a little bit different way and lets you be a little more sympathetic and empathetic to others people's needs," says Medevac Test Pilot Kristina Sofchak.

The Blackhawks will first travel to Fort Bliss, Texas, where the unit will undergo training for its mission. 

It’s then off to Afghanistan to complete the nine-month deployment.

This is actually the first of several deployments for members of the New Jersey National Guard.

By the end of May, more than 2,000 soldiers will be deployed across the world.

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