Soldiers get Lambeau Field send-off before Afghanistan tour

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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) -- Hundreds of Wisconsin soldiers were honored at Lambeau Field Thursday with a send-off ceremony before they deploy to Afghanistan.

The soldiers are members of the Wisconsin Army National Guard's Appleton-based 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry.

The soldiers will support NATO's Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan. They'll provide security for the 2nd Security Force Assistance Brigade out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina. That unit is training and assisting Afghan National Security Forces.

"Their heart, aching, because their loved one's about to go overseas for a year. That's a hard thing. I wish they didn't have to go overseas for a year," said Maj. Gen. Donald Dunbar. "But things that matter need to be defended, and they need to be defended by brave men and women and that's what we have before us here today."

The 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry has been deployed multiple times since the 9/11 terror attacks. They deployed for tours of Iraq in 2005-06 and 2009-10.

This will mark the unit's first tour of Afghanistan.

"It's really about flexibility, adaptability. There's so many things that are changing in Afghanistan and across the world, and we have such a complex mission," says Commanding Officer Matthew Elder.

"Our soldiers have to be ready for anything. They have to be ready to adapt and be flexible enough to do whatever the leaders in Afghanistan need them to do," Elder says.

Four hundred soldiers are deploying as part of this mission.

"Have faith in your leadership. Have faith in your chain in command. Have faith in each other and keep faith in your families," said soldier Dan Hover.

Hover's son was there to support dad. "When he's leaving I'm going to be sad," Dred Hover said.

The deployment is expected to last one year but could go longer based on what's happening on the ground in Afghanistan.

Jessie Vandeyacht is supporting her brother.

"I'm excited for him because he's been wanting to go. That's all he's been wanting to do. He's prepared and he's ready," Vandeyacht says.

The 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry includes Company A in Waupun and Ripon, Company B in Green Bay, Company C in Fond du Lac, Company D in Marinette, and the Appleton and Clintonville-based Headquarters.