SPENCER, Iowa (KTIV) -- Like many ceremonies and celebrations this year, the sendoff for the first of the 194th Field Artillery was held virtually for friends and family of Iowa National Guard members.
While a normal send off usually involves friends and families, due to COVID-19 the Iowa National Guard in Spencer, Iowa, had to find a creative way to include them in their sendoff.
"It's just something we gotta do. You gotta stay safe first," said Captain Cody Woiwood.
As the soldiers of the 194th Field Artillery sat at their send-off ceremony, they found one important piece of the day missing: family and friends.
Because of the pandemic, family and friends had to watch the send-off ceremony virtually.
One solider says even though it was hard without them, he's still thankful for the opportunity.
"For them, I feel it's a sense of pride. I come from a military family, so watching me get sent off is a pride moment for them," said Private Trey Fife.
Another soldier says his family was looking forward to the ceremony.
Now he's focused on the task at hand.
"I think we're all just ready to go," said the soldier. "Get ready with training down South and then get overseas, do our job and come back home and see our loved ones."
Captain Woiwood says the send-off ceremony is usually more for the family than the soldiers.
"It's just a time to prepare families. And essentially let families let the soldiers go for overseas missions. They will see their loved ones. They'll have the acceptance of letting them go for this period of time," said Woiwood.
He adds while it wasn't the most ideal, the ceremony on Saturday allowed friends and family from outside the area to participate.
Iowa Congressman Steve King was at the sendoff ceremony. He spoke to the soldiers, thanking them for the service they are about to provide for the country.
He says these soldier's sacrifice helps keep us safe here at home.
"It is a privilege and an honor. And I don't always think of that first thing in the morning but when they filled into this room here in the armory behind me, and they were announced as Iowa National Guardsmen… that just rang so clear to me. And I'm grateful to be here," said King.
King said he wants to remind the community to thank the soldiers for their service and sacrifice.