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Families gathered to say goodbye to the loved ones as 40 soldiers prepared to ship out Friday.

A sendoff ceremony was held for the 949th Medical Detachment Veterinary Service at the Army Reserve Center in Ames.

“The 949th is a unique unit. It has a unique culture. There’s always been excellence… There’s always been that ability to not only complete the mission, but to complete it well,” Lt. Col. Leonard Anderson Jr. said.

The unit is made up of veterinarians, food inspectors, mechanics, and cooks. They are being deployed to Kuwait, Qatar and Kyrgyzstan.

While overseas their mission is to ensure the safety of the military’s food supply, identify and monitor animal diseases and provide veterinary care for military dogs.

“Our mission is to sustain the fighting force… As I understand it there were more people sidelined in WWI by food borne illnesses and disease then there was by bullets. That’s part of our existence. That’s part of our real world mission.”

The unit was previously deployed to the Middle East in 2003 and 2006.