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Send-off ceremony honors deployers

The 161st Air Refueling Wing came together to honor the 161st Security Forces Squadron as they head for their Mobilization Training at Creech, Nev., and then on to Afghanistan in a ceremony April 6, 2013. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Susan Gladstein/Released)

The 161st Air Refueling Wing came together to honor the 161st Security Forces Squadron as they head for their Mobilization Training at Creech, Nev., and then on to Afghanistan in a ceremony April 6, 2013. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Susan Gladstein/Released)

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Daniel Irving, Arizona Air National Guard state command chief, presents the Arizona flag to deploying members of the 161st Security Forces Squadron, during a send-off ceremony April 6, 2013. Accepting the flag is U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Ronald Davis, 161 SFS deployment team leader, with the help of U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Hugo Salazar, Adjutant General, Arizona National Guard. At the ceremony, Chief Irving described the history of the Arizona flag which was designed by Arizona National Guard Col. Charles Wilfred Harris. Colonel Harris was the captain of the unit’s rifle team in 1910 and Arizona was the only team without an emblem. In 1917, the rifle team’s flag became the Arizona State Flag. Chief Irving requested that the team proudly display the Arizona State Flag throughout their deployment. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Susan Gladstein/Released)

U.S. Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Daniel Irving, Arizona Air National Guard state command chief, presents the Arizona flag to deploying members of the 161st Security Forces Squadron, during a send-off ceremony April 6, 2013. Accepting the flag is U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Ronald Davis, 161 SFS deployment team leader, with the help of U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Hugo Salazar, Adjutant General, Arizona National Guard. At the ceremony, Chief Irving described the history of the Arizona flag which was designed by Arizona National Guard Col. Charles Wilfred Harris. Colonel Harris was the captain of the unit’s rifle team in 1910 and Arizona was the only team without an emblem. In 1917, the rifle team’s flag became the Arizona State Flag. Chief Irving requested that the team proudly display the Arizona State Flag throughout their deployment. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Susan Gladstein/Released)

The Patriot Guard Riders present a flag to deploying members of the 161st Security Forces Squadron, during a send-off ceremony April 6, 2013. The Patriot Guard Riders is a motorcycle club whose members recognize and honor the sacrifices of U.S. Service members, firefighters and police officers and their families. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Susan Gladstein/Released)

The Patriot Guard Riders present a flag to deploying members of the 161st Security Forces Squadron, during a send-off ceremony April 6, 2013. The Patriot Guard Riders is a motorcycle club whose members recognize and honor the sacrifices of U.S. Service members, firefighters and police officers and their families. (Air National Guard photo by Tech. Sgt. Susan Gladstein/Released)

PHOENIX SKY HARBOR AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE -- The 161st Air Refueling Wing came together April 6, 2013, to honor members of the 161st Security Forces Squadron at a send-off ceremony.

Borrowing from U.S. Army tradition, the send-off ceremony was a first for the 161 ARW.

The message throughout the ceremony was that those deploying and their family members will be taken care of.

"This ceremony is important for family members," said U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Ronald Davis, 161 SFS deployment team leader. "We are able to let them know they'll be supported and people care about us."

U.S. Army Maj. Gen. Hugo Salazar, Adjutant General, Arizona National Guard, thanked the Service members and their family members for their dedication to the mission.

"We have deployed more than 11,000 Soldiers and Airmen from the Arizona National Guard," he said. "More than 600 Arizona Guardsmen are deployed currently. That's what we do in the Arizona Guard."

The general expressed the pride he has for the Arizona Guardsmen.

"I am grateful as the adjutant general to have the opportunity to brag and talk about the great things our Airmen do overseas," he said. "These Airmen will continue to do the same and represent the State of Arizona."

According to the 161 SFS first sergeant, Master Sgt. Robert Hernandez, the deploying Airmen have trained well for this deployment and have become technically and tactically proficient in their warrior skills.

"Deploying 161st Security Forces Squadron members, we wish you well and Godspeed for a safe return," he said. "Let's give these brave Airmen a big round of applause as they go forth to defend freedom."