FORT RUCKER, Ala. (July 19, 2012) -- Tears were flowing as more than a dozen troops boarded a bus to get ready to deploy to Southwest Asia as their Family, friends and fellow Soldiers waved and said their goodbyes.

Soldiers of the 164th Theater Airfield Operations Group deployed to Kuwait and Afghanistan July 14 from Cairns Army Airfield to provide airfield and air traffic services advice, standardization and safety for the Army Central Command theater of operations, according to Col. Mike Shenk, 164th TAOG commander.

"During this deployment, a significant portion of the unit will remain in Fort Rucker to continue preparation for future missions … and support the deployed forces," he said. "I'm confident that I've chosen the right leaders to serve those Soldiers and Family members supporting our mission from Fort Rucker."

The Soldiers that deployed will meet up with their advanced echelon team that deployed July 6 to prepare for the arrival of the rest of the unit, and for some, this deployment will not be the first time they've been sent overseas.

"This isn't anything new for me," said Spc. Nancy Vargas, 164th TAOG. "It's actually going to be a little vacation compared to my previous deployments because we were in Iraq before."

Vargas has deployed twice before between 2005 and 2008 and said she is proud to be able to serve her country.

"I take a lot of pride in what I do because I'm the first female in my Family to join the military," she said. "It's always nice to be able to call home and tell them what I did today."

Sgt. Felisha Gomez, 164th TAOG, said this was her second deployment. She also takes pride in what she does for her country and she's excited to be deploying.

"I'm looking forward to it -- it's going to be different [from my previous deployment]," she said. "Back here [on Fort Rucker], we do basic operations but it's not anything really specific. Over there we'll be doing something specific and it's going to feel like we actually have a big purpose."

Before the Soldiers deployed, the unit participated in the casing of the unit colors during a ceremony at the post theater July 12.

"The essence of the casing ceremony is an event marked by tradition, honor, respect and sacrifice," said 1st Lt. Edith H. Hutt, 164th TAOG adjutant. "The colors will be uncased when the brigade arrives in Kuwait and tradition holds that the colors lead the unit into battle."

The unit will not be fighting any battles while in Kuwait and Afghanistan, but deployment is still hard on the Soldiers and Families that are separated.

"It's tough on both ends of the deployment," said Shenk. "Each of the Soldiers deployed have loved ones and friends here at Fort Rucker, across the nation and abroad. I urge you, the deploying Soldiers, to keep [those friends and Families] informed, keep their spirits up and keep them in your thoughts."