Top Stories of 2012: Sending Love to Deploying Soldiers - - Bismarck/Minot/Williston/Dickinson-KXNEWS,ND

Top Stories of 2012: Sending Love to Deploying Soldiers

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Tonight is our first night of re-airing favorite stories of 2012.

Reporter Amber Schatz has chosen to show a story titled "proud sendoff"--from April.

It highlights the nearly 100 North Dakota National Guard members saying goodbye before deploying to Afghanistan for a year.

Little did we know then, that two guard members would be saying goodbye for the last time.

Here's more from Bismarck--as family and friends of the 818th send their love to deploying soldiers.

After months of anticipation, soldiers from the 818th Engineer Company are saying a last goodbye.

"We need to put a face, we need to put a name, we need to realize these are our people these are North Dakotans going off to do a mission that's going to be a challenging one." says James Avard/Ride Captain/Patriot Guard.

Flanked by family and friends, one by one, each soldier is sent on-board through a tunnel of support from the Patriot Guard.

"The handshake and the hug sometimes say more than anything, other times, we are here now, we will be here when they come home, we will be in between, our motto is standing by." says Avard.

Some are deploying for the first time, one man is on his fifth deployment.

"These guys are seeing 3,4 times what we saw in combat action, and the missions they go on, I just sit there and it stuns me, some of these guys, one guy, the fifth deployment." says Avard.

Dan, Karen and Alex are feeling emotions you can never really prepare for.

"We're here to say goodbye to our son, Gerald Hawk Jr." says Dan Dethmers.

"Kind of heart-breaking but I know he's a very proud person, very proud to serve in the armed forces, I'm very proud of him it's just so sad to see him leave for a whole year." says Karen Dethmers.

Gerald's son Alex had the best seat in the house, at an official sendoff ceremony this weekend, but after seeing his dad leave, he's as choked up as a parent.

"My dad went on a deployment and he took off..." (What did you say the last time you hugged him, "I love you". says seven-year-old Alex.

Veterans and other supporters continue to send their love into the air, until after the plane is out of view.

A sad, but proud sight.

"We're here to take care of those guys, put the shine on them, their sacrifices, their families, that's where the focus needs to be, we're here to make sure that they know they're appreciated, beyond their families, they know that, we represent the wider community, we're here to say we care enough." says Avard.

"We're here to say we care enough to take time out of our daily lives we've got people here from Jamestown, Williston, Minot, Fargo that came out here to see these guys, when they come home, we're going to be here again, and rain or shine, we're here."

Sgt. 1st Class Darren Linde and Spc. Tyler Orgaard were killed by an IED earlier this month.

Spc. Ian Placek, also of Bismarck, was wounded.

Nearly 100 from the men's unit remain overseas as 2012 ends, as do about 30 other Soldiers and Airmen who are serving in Afghanistan, Cuba and Qatar.

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