Gov. Nikki Haley and her family, along with more than 40 other families of S.C. Army National Guard soldiers, said goodbye to their loved ones Thursday at the McGrady Training Center in Eastover.
The 47 soldiers of the S.C. ADT 3/49 — including Gov. Haley's husband Michael Haley — left for Indiana, where they will spend a month training.
After training, the unit will spend about 11 months in Afghanistan teaching local farmers agricultural techniques and how to grow crops.
"We are so proud of all of our families because they provide us the support that allows us to launch our troops forward," Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston said. "Each family, each soldier, each airman is special, and the Haleys are part of that family."
Gov. Nikki Haley sat in the audience with her children, Rena and Nalin, and several other family members during a ceremony to see off the soldiers.
"We are a proud military family who understands the sacrifices any family goes through when a loved one is serving his or her country," Haley said in a statement. "This is what our men and women in uniform sign up for, and although Michael, like his brothers and sisters, is looking forward to his mission, we will miss him while he's away. Rena, Nalin and I are proud of Michael and will pray for his — and all others' — safe return."
In Afghanistan, the unit will work to strengthen the economy by providing the tools farmers need to grow sustainable crops, Livingston said.
"The agricultural piece was the key and is the key to getting us out of Afghanistan," he said. "That's South Carolinians making a difference in this world."