Maryland Army National Guard unit prepares to deploy to Afghanistan

BALTIMORE - In a corner of the Aberdeen Proving Ground at Edgewood, people gather to send off those they love.

For many, they've done it before. Friends and family of the Maryland Army National Guard's 1100th tasmg, or theater aviation sustainment maintenance group, know the importance of this unit, keeping helicopters functioning and those in them safe.

Fifteen times the 1100th has been called to support Operation Enduring Freedom. So the 16th should come easy.

"It doesn't get any easier,” said Chris Conger, whose husband is being deployed. “Actually it's probably a little harder because we know what to expect."

This is Staff Sgt. Raymond Conger's third time being deployed.

"My three youngest were too young the last two times I deployed so, they know that I went but don't really remember it,” he said. “They're older now. They understand what's going on. I'm worried it will be difficult on them."

This deployment will be about a year long, dividing the group between Afghanistan and Kuwait. Unlike before this mission may have a slightly different focus.

"With things drawing down, we expect a heavier workload for a unit like this, because we will be helping process any equipment coming out of the country,” Staff Sgt. Conger said.

For some, this may make them the last soldiers on the ground in Afghanistan.

"The strength that you should pull from all of your loved ones and friends that are here is what's going to carry you through in the next months,” said Linda Singh, commander of the Maryland National Guard.

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