OKMULGEE, Oklahoma - The Oklahoma National Guard Alpha Company 777th Aviation Support Battalion said goodbye to loved ones on Saturday as it heads to the Middle East.

The Thomas family looked on as the men and women of the 777th ASB begin their journey to deployment.

Their 21-year-old son, Tremaine Thomas Jr., officially is beginning his year-long tour overseas.

“We're going to miss him, but I know that he's a church-going young man and he knows that when things get tough, just stay in prayer so I have confidence that he'll be all right,” Tremaine Thomas Sr. said.

The young Okmulgee native joined the National Guard at 18 and it came as no surprise.

“His grandfather spent many years in the military, and his great grandfather, so there's a long line of history with our ancestors being in the military,” mother Shon Thomas said.

“He was just fired up about serving his country and I knew he was serious about it,” Thomas Sr. said. "He made me extremely proud to make that decision."

It was a sentiment shared by many of the friends and family of this troop of 100 guardsmen.

The troop will provide aviation support for Operation Enduring Freedom in the Middle East.

“We refuel helicopters, we have a small ammo section, a small transportation section, we have 92 alpha warehouse personnel that keep the repair parts for those helicopters, so basically we're just going to support the birds."

And while this day may be bittersweet, the men and women in uniform are ready to get the job done.

“I've been ready to get deployed,” Thomas Jr. said. “I've been ready to be with my Army unit and I'm just ready to get the mission accomplished and come back home."