TRENTON, New Jersey -- The Cure Insurance Arena in Trenton, New Jersey, was full of family and friends wishing their loved ones off to the Middle East on Sunday morning.
The New Jersey National Guard is deploying approximately 1,500 soldiers from the 44th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.
It is the largest deployment of New Jersey Army National Guard soldiers since 2008.
"I'm a husband and father of four, this is my fifth deployment to the Middle East, fourth as New Jersey National Guard, my family has been through this," said Lt. Col. Omar Minott of the New Jersey Army National Guard. "We've trained really hard this last year in particular, we did a joint training center rotation and it was a really good opportunity for us to see ourselves conducting large-scale combat operations."
Despite their preparation, it doesn't make the mission easier -- everyone had stories of sacrifice.
"It's like a bittersweet feeling, I'm happy that they're going to do something they want to accomplish, really sad they're leaving," said Natasha Ramirez of Passaic, New Jersey.
Danielle Pruser of Sussex, New Jersey, is gearing up for her husband's second deployment and this time it will be a little different.
"It's hard, but we support him. Ready for him to come back," Pruser said. "She's about 11 months now, when daddy comes back she'll be walking."
As people hugged and said goodbye, there was also an understanding that this deployment and work is necessary.
The soldiers, nicknamed the "Jersey Blues," will support Operation Inherent Resolve.
Operation Inherent Resolve is the United States military's operational name for the international war against the Islamic State, including both a campaign in Iraq and a campaign in Syria, with a closely related campaign in Libya.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy and Sen. Cory Booker were among the dignitaries called to speak during the ceremony.
Murphy sent the soldiers off with words of encouragement, while also thanking them for their selflessness, service, and commitment.
"To all of you in the 44th, whether you're carrying on the legacy of the continental army, or you're carrying on a family legacy of your own, or perhaps you're the first member of your family to serve, let me say to each and every one of you, thank you for your service and thank you to your families for the sacrifice they are making," said Murphy.
The service members will first be traveling from New Jersey to Fort Bliss in Texas for a five-week training.
After that, they will head overseas.