NORTH LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- Families waved goodbye to soldiers heading to Central America.
The 39th Infantry Brigade said their final farewells early Sunday morning. They'll assist with securing and stabilizing three areas. It's never easy saying goodbye, but for Lieutenant Colonel Slade McPherson it's his fifth time having to do it. He joins about 150 fellow soldiers that are on their way to Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala promoting security, stability, and tactical training.
"The mission is to assist with information sharing and tactical training at the company and platoon level,” McPherson said. "We've pulled together a number of Spanish speaking soldiers from Arkansas, Texas and Puerto Rico to assist us as translators."
Made up mostly of senior leaders, this mission offers a chance to practice top notch training when it comes to providing aid to foreign nations. Guard commanders said the task lays a path for future missions to the area and with civilian and military experience that only helps with completing the mission.
Beverly Webb, President for United Daughters of the Confederacy in Little Rock, takes their role personal. She and other chapter members offer goodie bags and a little charm before they leave.
"Every time you come they are always so grateful that we are here, they are always thankful,” Webb said. "We're here to pat them on the back and thank them and hug them and tell them to be safe and tell them we will be here when they get back."
Colonel McPherson believes it's the time and distance away from family that's the hardest part of it all, but he believes it's the support from back home that helps bridge that gap.
"We have a lot of soldiers that have never deployed before,” McPherson said. “Like myself, I have deployed four times, but it's always a new experience for the family, so you've got to get them re-engaged with that."