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About 80 soldiers from Battery C, 2nd Battalion, 174th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, based in McConnelsville, gathered for a call of duty ceremony in Zanesville.

ZANESVILLE, Ohio — They were ready for their mission. But they did not seem quite ready to say goodbye.

“I mean, I knew it was going to happen, but I feel like you can never prepare for seeing your loved ones cry like that,” Spc. Kennedee Putnam said.

The soldier, from Baltimore, was surrounded by friends and family Friday morning as she prepared for her first deployment.

Among them was her firefighter father, John.

“It’s going to be different, especially with holidays, it’s going to be hard,” he said. “Just trying to pay attention to what’s going on and hope that where they’re going, they’re safe, and they’ll come back.”

The roughly 80 soldiers from Battery C, 2nd Battalion, 174th Air Defense Artillery Regiment, based in McConnelsville, are deploying in support of U.S. Central Command as part of Operation Inherent Resolve.

For Capt. Jason McNamara, it will be his third deployment but his first as a father.

“I’m ready to go,” he said. “Experience has taught me the dos and don’ts and what I can pass on to my soldiers. The only difference this time is I’m the lead and not having a battalion headquarters going with us.”

Those supporting Inherent Resolve are generally sent to Iraq and Syria to defend against ISIS, but the recent events in Afghanistan were still top of mind for many Friday. And, as they gathered outside the Secrest Auditorium, they stood beneath a flag that had been lowered by the governor’s orders to honor those killed in the Kabul attack.

“The last 24 hours have been very emotional, not only for those that are receiving knocks on their doors or maybe wondering still, but obviously then trying to stay focused on right here and now in the moment for my son and all of these soldiers here today,” said Tammy Smith, mother of Sgt. Cody Ratliff.

For Smith, this isn’t the first time watching her son head off to parts unknown. But that doesn’t mean Friday’s sendoff was any easier. In fact, her feelings ran the gamut.

“Emotional,” she said. “Proud. Anxious. Excited for coming home. Already focused on that. And, more than anything, privileged to be his mom.”

Meanwhile, her son was cool as a cucumber as he prepared for his second deployment.

“I really just look forward to being like a mentor for most people and for them to be able to come to me with anything they need,” Sgt. Ratliff said. “I’m just ready to go rock it out.”

He and the rest of his fellow soldiers, known as the Black Sheep, have been training for months. And their mission was planned quite some time ago, long before the recent events in Afghanistan.

But, as is true with any deployment, the goodbyes are never easy.

“My heart goes out to every soldier, every family, every child,” Smith said. “Just thinking that I know that these days ahead of them are going to be filled with a lot of anxiety and wondering where their soldier is, and so I pray for each and every one of them to be able to trust in God and that the day that they come home, safe and sound, mentally and physically, is soon.”

Local News: Recent coverage from 10TV.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=videoseries

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