OPA-LOCKA (CBS4) – Nearly two hundred Army Reserve soldiers are leaving South Florida for Afghanistan to help train and support the Afghan security force.

Soldiers from the 841st Engineer Battalion bring with them varied backgrounds skills, and stories.

This is the first deployment for Captain Geoff GIivens.

“We’re from Miami and so in Miami there are a lot of different cultures and a lot of different people and so I would say we’re a very diverse unit,” he said, “We’re one team we’re one when we go overseas and we pull for each other we look out for each other.”

Battalion medical officer Lt. Ray Rahkar has a special responsibility to look out for his fellow soldiers.

“I provide medical care in the real world as well working in the hospital but this is a family here. When we put this uniform on it’s a bond and it’s my responsibility that they’re taken care of and if something was to happen, I just got to take it to heart that I provide my best medical care for them,” he explained.

Even as they rely on their military family, these soldiers leave loved ones behind. “I think that’s the key right there is preparing your family,” said Staff Sgt. Carlos Laureano.  He already served in Iraq and says his family is his still his biggest support as he gets ready to go to Afghanistan.

“They support me in so many ways and they are the ones who actually give me that motivation to do my job and to make sure that I come back and spend time with them,” he said.

All soldiers say saying goodbye is tough,

“This is probably the first time going away for a long time since I’ve been married and have two kids — a five month old and a two year old,” said Lt. Rahkar, “So, it’s hard in the heart but when I’m here I have to maintain stand up straight hold those tears in.”

Captain Givens added, “A lot of emotions come with that but it’s good emotions because you know you’re doing something your son will be proud of one day and that’s what I want to do,”

The mission is scheduled for about 400 days, but soldiers say they might get to come home around Christmas.


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