Mesa-based US Army unit headed to Afghanistan

Mesa-based US Army unit headed to Afghanistan

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MESA, Ariz. -

An Easter farewell ceremony was held in Mesa Sunday for more than 170 soldiers headed to Afghanistan.

The US Army has called the Mesa-based 56th Military Police Company to active duty to support Operation Enduring Freedom.

Sunday was the deployment ceremony.

But instead of putting a damper on Easter, many soldiers said they enjoyed spending time with their family and what's become their extended family.

It was an emotional Easter Sunday for some family and soldiers of the 56th Military Police Company, based in Mesa.

"Emotions going a little haywire," said Pfc. Michael Ward.

About 170 soldiers from Arizona, California, Texas, Oklahoma and Utah are being deployed to Afghanistan.

Sunday a farewell ceremony was held at Highland High School football field.

"It's difficult, but it's good for him," said Craig Ward, Michael Ward's father.

'They're just nervous, of course, their daughter's going off to war," said Spc. Jennifer Chi.

The soldiers will be deployed for about nine months, providing security and law enforcement in Afghanistan.

"We're military police so we're multi functional," said First Sergeant Sean Davis.

As the unit stood on the football field, families sat under umbrellas to ward off the beating sun and kids were dressed in their Easter best.

Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema and military leaders addressed the group.

"It didn't take long to learn these guys are probably one of the most outstanding group of soldiers I've ever served with," said Davis.

This unit went to Iraq in 2007. While it's the second deployment for the unit, for some of the soldiers it's their first.

"Actually, we have more soldiers who have yet to deploy than we have veterans of deployment," said Davis.

"I try to enjoy every minute because I only have a few left," said Spc. Iliana Daisher.

This is Daisher's first deployment.

She's leaving her 1-year-old daughter, Lillian.

"It's going to be rough, but with Skype and stuff, I' going to be able to watch her grow," said Daisher.

"We're up to the task and we'll all come home...172 go, 172 come back," said Davis.

An Easter egg hunt was organized for the unit and their families Saturday.

While Sunday was the deployment ceremony, the unit leaves Wednesday, so they still have a little time to spend with family and friends.

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