SEARCY, Ark. – There were a lot of hugs and a few tears as troops across the state departed Sunday morning for deployment.

450 members of the Arkansas National Guard 2-153 Infantry Battalion departed for Fort Bliss in Texas.

In Searcy, 63 of the members of the 2nd Battalion departed by bus following a ceremony at the Searcy Armory.

Searcy mayor Mat Faulkner said he couldn’t be more proud of the group.

“From the city of Searcy, we couldn’t be more proud to have these men and women represent Arkansas and our Country, and we’re praying for them and their families and that the Lord will be with them as they serve our country.”

The troops will spend up to a year supporting Operation Spartan Shield in southwest Asia.

Departure ceremonies also took place in Harrison, Batesville and West Memphis Sunday morning.

For more on their mission, go to our web site.