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Farewell ceremony held for Arizona National Guard members deployed to Iraq

Posted at 4:17 PM, Mar 29, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-29 22:17:22-04

PHOENIX — A farewell ceremony at the Papago Park Military Reservation was held on Friday morning to send off 50 National Guard men and women who will be touring in Iraq for nine months.

"This is my first deployment," says Kayla Huerta, one of the team members of the 996th Medical Company Area Support Unit being deployed to the Middle East.

The soldiers are focusing on medically supporting the approximate 1,500 National Guard service members that are already deployed in the region.

Huerta says she's ready to give it her best.

"I believe 100 percent in myself, 100 percent in everybody I'm going with. I think if there were anybody I'd want to go with, it would definitely be this group," Huerta said.

This is Huerta's first tour in Iraq, and as part of this team, she will be helping with hazmat situations that arise.

"I work on protecting everybody from chemical hazards that could be out there potentially, and also protecting if it does take place, afterward to make sure they can continue the mission," she adds.

Part of the leadership includes Guardsmen like Captain Daniel Schipper. This is Captain Schipper's third tour.

"I've been deployed under Bush, Obama, and now Trump. I'm excited to go and see what we've been able to do with the Iraqi defense force and the Iraqi police in terms of training and maturity," said Captain Schipper.

Captain Schipper adds that he was in Iraq in 2004 helping set up the Iraqi police force, then he was in the country in 2010 for the first election. This third tour, he says he is excited to see what has been accomplished over the last 15 years. He works in the medical field in the West Valley and says the support he's received for this deployment goes beyond his family.

"Even my patients have been very supportive about hearing me getting deployed and all that, I will miss them," Schipper said.