NORMAN, Okla. (KFOR) — Family and state leaders held a ceremony to celebrate 50 members of the Oklahoma National Guard before they left for Texas to help monitor a portion of the southern border.

The mission is to stop the smuggling of drugs, weapons and people.

“All we’re doing is trying to secure our southern border,” said Gov. Kevin Stitt, R-Oklahoma.

Stitt said he believes this is in Oklahoma’s best interest.

“I know personally in our state those deaths have increased over 500%,” said Stitt, “They’re going to be curbing the drugs that are coming in.”

It’s called Operation Lone Star and the mission is to support law enforcement and border operations.

“These guardsmen are stepping up to be able to help the security of our state and our nation,” said U.S. Sen. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma.

“They’re stepping up to lead and just so proud of our men and women in uniform,” added Stitt.

The soldiers will be away from their families for 30 days.

Many are sad but glad to serve.

“It’s super exciting, I can’t tell you how excited I am to get down there and just lend a hand,” said Reese Hart, Oklahoma National Guard Specialist.

Sunday was the soldiers’ final day with their families. Oklahoma National Guard officials told News Four there may be another chance of deployment to the southern border in 2024.