Fort Bragg soldiers head to Afghanistan - WNCN: News, Weather

Fort Bragg soldiers head to Afghanistan

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FORT BRAGG, N.C. -

Approximately 100 soldiers with the XVIII Airborne Corps at Fort Bragg left for Afghanistan Wednesday. They expect their deployment to last until the end of the year. The soldiers with be training, advising and assisting Afghan security forces and coordinating NATO operations.

"I'm excited, nervous, just unsure of what's coming up," commented Cpl. Andrew Westerhold who was leaving on his first deployment.

He and the other soldiers gathered at the Green Ramp pack shed Wednesday afternoon to spend two final hours with family and friends before parting for deploying. Westerhold was saying goodbye to his young children and his wife who is expecting a baby in May.

"Yeah this will be the first one I have to miss," Westerhold said.

His wife Christine knows challenges are ahead, but she is expecting lots of support from family. She said the hard part will be explaining the time apart to her children.

"They don't quite understand where's Daddy and when Daddy's coming back," she said. "If I give them a time limit it's like, ‘that's tomorrow, right? No, no, it's not tomorrow.'"

Some soldiers were feeling optimistic on Wednesday though. There is a feeling that this could be the last major deployment to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom, and in some way that eases the pain of going away.

"I think that's everybody's hope in here is that this is the last one, the last big one at least that we'll be gone for a long time," explained WC3 Byron Morales. "I'm sure there will be little ones here and there but not the current length that we're projected to go to."

The soldiers who left Wednesday followed another wave of 150 XVIII Airborne Corps soldiers who left on deployment Sunday night.

The 4th Brigade Combat Team of the 82nd Airborne Division has also deployed soldiers this week. About 200 soldiers left Sunday night, and 150 left Wednesday. The 4th Brigade Combat team soldiers will be a security force in Afghanistan.

Brandon Herring

Brandon is a North Carolina native and UNC alum who lives in Fayetteville, and covers Cumberland County and the Sandhills. Returning to North Carolina to work as a journalist is a dream come true for Brandon. More>>

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