Florida National Guard holds send-off event for 300 members going overseas

Family members of the Second Battalion, 124th Infantry Regiment were emotional as they said goodbye at their deployment ceremony.

"I'm going to miss him a whole bunch. I'm not ready for this but this is what he chose, this is what he is about. You just have to support him," said Irma Dematta, who was there to send off her 22-year-old son.

The Florida National Guard hosted the military event for 300 members that will be gone for a year.  They flew out from Orlando Sanford International Airport and will train at Fort Bliss in Texas before going to Kuwait to support a security operation.

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"It's pretty different because I'm actually leaving home. My only experience away from home is basic training. So its pretty exciting," said Juan Dematta, who held his mother before taking off. 

His battalion commander said this group has been through COVID-19, securing the inauguration, and now have been asked to serve overseas. He spoke at the ceremony.

"It signifies the closing out and the casing of their colors here in the United States as they head off overseas to deploy," said Lieutenant Colonel DeWitt Revels.

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Alachua County brothers Martin and Owen Pickard are going away together. They said that they are following in their family's footsteps by serving.

"I'm pretty excited about it. I wasn’t expecting so soon after getting out of basic," said Owen Pickard.

Most of the soldiers were locals from Central Florida and the surrounding areas are going overseas for the first time.

"It’s a sad day to see anybody go but it's also a very proud day," said Lieutenant Colonel Revels.

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