CARTHAGE, Mo. — A bittersweet morning in Carthage as more than 100 Missouri National Guard soldiers prepare to leave their families for the next year. The engineer company is local to Southwest Missouri.

“This is my second deployment,” said Staff Sergeant E6 Brandon Bowman, Missouri Army National Guard’s 294th Engineer Company.

Final goodbyes and long-lasting hugs…

“This is number three,” said Captain Trey Maevers, Missouri Army National Guard’s 294th Engineer Company.

A bittersweet feeling…

“This is just like the 2nd time,” said Cheryl Sheat, Mother of Sergeant E5 Taylor Sheat.

Because just moments before, a special ceremony for the “Missouri Army National Guard’s 294th engineer company.”

“I’m going to miss him because he does a lot for us,” said Sheat.

Cheryl Sheat is beaming with pride watching her son, and more than one hundred of his fellow National Guard soldiers prepare to leave for the Horn of Africa.

“Just very proud and sad at the same time. But we at least get to communicate with him, so that’s going to be a good thing,” said Sheat.

The company will be tasked with construction and infrastructure projects in the region.

“When we arrive in Africa, we’ll provide engineering support, and horizontal and vertical aspects to the local areas or supporting military functions to help increase morale and stability,” said Bowman.

“We’re a National Guard. We’re a bunch of guardsmen that’s here in the state of Missouri, but every once in a while the US Army calls on us because they need us. And it’s specific for our engineers, we have a unique job. And we have a unique skill set that we can bring to the fight globally,” said Maevers.

Speakers at Wednesday’s ceremony didn’t mince words about the part of the country that includes Ethiopia, Somalia, and Djibouti.

The work the men and women will be doing over the next year is important to our country’s security.

“I’m a technical engineer. I provide topographical data on what exists, and the blueprints for what existing facilities are there. And, then, seeing what we can provide in the area to add to the local populace,” said Bowman.

But, before they go, a symbol of solidarity between members, to remind us they’re human, as they look forward to what’s to come.

“I’m looking forward to traveling, seeing new things, experiencing new things,” said Bowman.

“I’m looking forward to not only furthering my career with the Missouri National Guard and the US Army but also, you know I can’t wait to come back to my two little boys and wife, so,” said Maevers.

Their families will be waiting.

“I’m sad. I’m happy. And, very, very proud,” said Sheat.