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Families and friends say goodbye to 100 troops deployed to Middle East

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Tears were shed at the Elizabethton National Guard Sunday morning where about one hundred U.S. troops from across the country packed their bags and headed to the Middle East for a nine month deployment.

Friends and family gathered together to wish their loved ones safe travels.

They remind us that it's not a goodbye but a see you later.

"Friends, family, if you're listening to me, I love you. This is something we've been training for. This is our duty to our country and I'll see you soon. Won't be too long. I'll be back," says First Lieutenant and Platoon Leader, Mickey Shelton.

Michelle and Mickey Shelton of Knoxville said goodbye to their only son who is heading out for his first deployment.

"We love you and we know that you're doing what you love to do," says Michelle Shelton.

"We're here for you son. And everything will be fine. You just come back," says Mickey Shelton.

After training for a year and a half these men and women are heading to Kuwait to work as a maintenance crew.

This is Sergeant First Class Samuel Hartman’s fourth deployment.

"Lot of our soldiers, they have never been deployed before so it's going to be interesting," says Sgt. Hartman.

He's leaving behind his wife Corintha and two children.

"I knew this day would come, but I was hoping it never would. So now that it's here, it's not really real right now. I think it'll sink in after he leaves," says Corintha Hartman.

The families gathered outside the National Guard and said their final goodbyes.

Although communication will be limited overseas, Mrs. Hartman is looking forward to the first phone call.

"I think you appreciate each other more because you have less time together. And you don't know how much time you are going to have. So you cherish those moments more when you have them," says Corintha Hartman

This will be the U.S. Army National Guard 776 Maintenance Company's fourth deployment including Desert Storm.

The troops were also met with a local preacher who sent a blessing to the troops before they headed out.

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