PIERCE CITY, Mo -

While the war in Afghanistan winds down, there's still plenty to do.

154 brave southwest Missourians are on their way to finish Operation Enduring Freedom.

There were cheers but bittersweet goodbyes in Pierce City to citizen soldiers with the Missouri National Guard's 276th Engineer Company.

Eli and Caleb Hathcock made a special sign for their father Tim.

"To show our dad that we love him," Eli said.

Rebecca Hathcock has a tough road ahead, but she and her boys are staying strong.

"They've been really great throughout this whole process," Hathcock said.

The community's pride was contagious. Even for the soldiers gearing up for their first deployment.

"I think we are all a little nervous. A lot of it for me is excitement and something new since it's my first time," said Private First Class Miguel Arevalo.

He's leaving his three-month-old daughter.

"It was tough because I want to see her grow up, but I know she'll be there when I get back," he said.

This is the unit's first deployment, but many soldiers are on their 2nd or 3rd tour.
They'll be tearing down bases and should be home for Christmas.