California National Guard's Charlie Company, 1st Batallion, 168th Aviation Regiment deploys from Mather Field for Afghanistan, March 4, 2013
MATHER, CA - A California National Guard regiment of nearly 50 combat medics is heading to Afghanistan.
The Charlie Company, 1st Battalion, 168th Aviation Regiment is leaving for a year-long deployment to Afghanistan to support Operation Enduring Freedom.
Monday, family and friends had a chance to send off their loved ones during a special ceremony at Mather Field.
""As you know, probably, the reward in the Army for doing a good job is they give you a harder job," said Maj. Gen. Lawrence Haskins, the commander of the California National Guard.
This is the third overseas deployment for the 168th Aviation Regiment during OEF, but for many of the troops, like Spc. Titus Heading, it is their first deployment.
"I'll be doing hoist missions and picking up patients who are hurt or wounded, and helping out as much as I can with the medic in the back [of the helicopter]," said Heading, as he explained what role he will have on the helicopter.
The regiment, made up mostly of soldiers from the Sacramento area, will take eight Black Hawk helicopters and meet up with similar-sized regiments from Washington and Nevada in Texas for a brief training stop before continuing to Afghanistan.
Their regiment's deployment comes as the Obama administration is reducing the number of troops in Afghanistan. Currently, there are 66,000 troops, but that number is expected to drop to 60,000 by the end of May.
by Patrick Walker, PWalker@news10.net