FORT BRAGG, N.C. (WTVD) --Staring into the eyes of the little blue-eyed boy sitting comfortably in his arms, Sgt. Cameron McKeeby isn't dwelling on the fact he'll miss his son's first birthday.
"So this is about as patriotic as it gets," he jokes as he shows off his son's T-shirt with a printed-on American flag bow tie and matching suspenders.
McKeeby is among 450 18th Airborne Corps soldiers deploying from Ft. Bragg to Kuwait Wednesday to join the fight against ISIS. Once on the ground, they will join ally forces, leading a coalition of more than 60 nations in defeating ISIS in Iraq and Syria.
"For me, it's bigger than just a job," he said. "It's protecting him and solidifying his future."
Across the room, tears welled up in Katie Kane's eyes and spilled onto her cheeks as she watched her husband, dressed in uniform, his gear packed and sitting at his feet, holding their infant son close.
"It's hitting me right now," she said as she explained this is her husband's third deployment, but his first as a new father.
"It's scary," said Kane as she thought about the risk involved with the mission and the task that lay ahead here at home. "Learning how to do things on my own, take care of him, and work. It's going to be different."
For many of these soldiers, this deployment is unique.
"This one's different," said Lt. Col. Jim Hardaway. "With Syria, it makes the problem set a little more complex. The enemy's a little different than what we've done in the past."
Just last week, Sec. of Defense Ash Carter met with members of the 18th Airborne Corps, warning them the mission would be dangerous, but critical to destroying ISIS.
"Nobody should be in any doubt that forces who are participating in this campaign are at risk in spite of the strategic approach," Carter said. "I assure you, you will get what you need to succeed."
Before saying their goodbyes, soldiers talked about how well-trained and prepared they are to help local forces defeat the terrorist group.
McKeeby said while goodbyes are never easy, ones like this are full of purpose for the future.
"I think that's what takes away the strain and stress and sadness," he said. "It's like I'm leaving my family behind, but i'm also helping them."