"We're all just waiting to get on the bird, do our job," Spc. Krikor Mouradian said Sunday night at Fort Bragg before his deployment to Afghanistan.
With their goodbyes said to family a few hours earlier, soldiers passed the time watching some football, reading, or making a few last phone calls.
"It's a little nerve-wracking," Mouradian said. "It's exciting, but at the end of the day we have a job to do, and we gotta go do it."
Mouradian was one of about 200 soldiers deploying from the 82nd Airborne Division's 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1st Battalion 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment. The paratroopers' mission is to provide base and convoy security for American and NATO forces while deployed in Afghanistan.
Across the room about 150 soldiers with the XVIII Airborne Corps were also ready to leave for Afghanistan.
"We do it for the guys on our left and our right, for our families and for our country," explained Col. William Black with the Corps. "We all enjoy what we're doing or we wouldn't be here."
This is Black's second deployment to Afghanistan. He said this one is harder.
''…because by boys are older now," Black said. "They understand the inherent potential dangers that are out there."
It is also the second deployment for Sgt. Sarah Quinn. She also said this is a more difficult deployment for her because she is leaving behind a new family.
"This deployment's different," Quinn said. "I was single with no children and no family last time. I just had a baby."
Despite leaving family the soldiers said they were ready to do the job. They said support from back home does help. They really notice letters, care packages and other signs of support when they are overseas Quinn said.
Both groups of soldiers expect to be deployed nine to 12 months. A second contingent is slated to depart later in the week.
Brandon is a North Carolina native and UNC alum who lives in Fayetteville, and covers Cumberland County and the Sandhills. Returning to North Carolina to work as a journalist is a dream come true for Brandon.More>>