Gov. Haley's family joins others as they say goodbye to deploying troops (Stacy Jacobson/WCIV)
Michael Haley gets a hug from family members as he gets ready to board the bus to training camp (Stacy Jacobson/WCIV)
The Patriot Guard leads the way as the soldiers' bus departs (Stacy Jacobson/WCIV)
FORT JACKSON, S.C. (AP/WCIV) - Gov. Nikki Haley's husband is leaving with his Army National Guard unit for a month of training before deploying to Afghanistan.
Guard Maj. Cindi King says Capt. Michael Haley's unit departs Thursday for Camp Atterbury in Indiana. The unit is not scheduled to return to South Carolina before the yearlong mission.
Gov. Haley's office issued the following statement: "We are a proud military family who understands the sacrifices any family goes through when a loved one is serving his or her country. 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."
Officials said Michael Haley specializes in medical organization. He will not have any special treatment or security, they said.
Michael Haley's group is the third South Carolina Army National Guard group to work for a year with Afghan farmers to improve farming practices.
Haley joined the guard as an officer in 2006. This will be his first deployment overseas. He has served as a medical service corps officer and a planning officer.
All the soldiers who left South Carolina Thursday morning did so with a heavy heart.
"I love her and I wish she could stay," said A'nya Williams, 12, whose mother was deployed.
"I'm just sad that I'm leaving my family. I'm leaving behind a 1 year old and a 12 year old," her mother Staff Sgt. Elaina Williams.
About 50 South Carolina National Guard soldiers made up the Agribusiness Development Team. They planned to teach Afghans how to farm, irrigate and build their economy.
Maj. Gen. Robert Livingston said the "mission is of prime importance."
"We can secure it all we want to, but if they don't have a good economy, there will never be peace. This is what this agricultural team's all about," Livingston said.
"Improving the average life of rural Afghan farmers will be as big a blow to the Taliban as any military unit we could send," Sen. Lindsey Graham (R- S.C.) said.
"Being an agriculture economy, it's good having people who relate so well," he said. "It's just, ‘Hey. how you doing?'"
Governor Haley didn't speak to media at the deployment ceremony. She comforted her children, Rena, 14 and Nalin, 10, and stayed with her extended family.
"The emotion she feels is shared by every body. From the governor to just the average citizen, these families are united. It doesn't matter your position when your loved one is deployed for a year," Graham said.
Her spokesman said Gov. Haley had always been a mother first and that won't change.
Williams was eager to be able to say, "mission accomplished."
"It makes me want to get over there, do what we have to do and come back home to them," she said.
Two more teams could follow this team in the coming years, officials said.
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Posted: May 06, 2010 10:34 AM EDT
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