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Jan 4, 2013 10:18 PM by Nathan O'Neal

Families, friends send off Arizona National Guard unit in emotional ceremony

TUCSON - Members of of the Arizona National Guard were deployed in a formal ceremony in Tucson before ultimately shipping out over seas to Afghanistan.

It was an overwhelming display of support, as family and friends gathered to see their loved ones off. There weren't even enough seats to go around-just standing room only.

For members of the military police unit, it was their last chance to say goodbye.

Timothy Aranda is on his first deployment, leaving behind a fiance and a 3-month old son who is also named Timothy. The toughest part for Aranda is what he will leave in Arizona.

"Just [my son] growing up his first year, I'm going to miss his first birthday," Aranda said.

An Arizona state flag was presented to the unit, a symbolic gesture, so that the soldiers and airmen can take Arizona with them on their mission.

It was also an emotional send-off for Shawn Patze and his girlfriend Jacque Rivera.

"It's good to know that all the families have support and it's good to meet everyon's family that's out here with us," Patze said after the ceremony.

They will deploy together for the second time overseas, leaving behind Rivera's 11-year-old son, Angel.

"I'm sad that she's leaving and I just really want to spend a lot of time with her and that's all," Angel said as he stood by his mom.

For Rivera, it's a bittersweet moment full of both pride and heartache.

"Knowing that we're going to say goodbye today, that's the hardest part, so [I'm] trying to enjoy it righ now while we can, but the emotions will come later," Rivera told News 4 Tucson.

The military police unit will next go Fort Bliss, Texas, for additional training before they are shipped out over seas to Afghanistan.

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