Hundreds of Kansas National Guard soldiers celebrated before deployment

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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - Over 700 Kansas National Guard soldiers bid farewell to their family and friends Friday morning before deploying to Kuwait.

Soldiers of the 2nd Combined Arms Battalion, 137th Infantry Regiment and Battery C, 1st Battalion 161st Field Artillery gave out hugs and well wishes at the Expocentre. They are heading to the middle east, along with members of the Mississippi National Guard, for a year as part of Operation Spartan Shield.

The Expocentre was packed with support for the soldiers.

"It really is great for the morale of our service members and our soldiers to be able to see all of the family and friends and community that came out to support them and wish them godspeed on a safe and successful mission," said Maj. Gen. Lee Tafanelli, the General Adjutant General of Kansas.

Maj. Gen. Tafanelli said this is the first deployment for many of the soldiers, making the day more emotional.