BROWNSVILLE — Luis Trejo hates bullies. When he joined the U.S. Army four years ago, it was a chance to help those who could not protect themselves.

Today, he is part of the Alpha Company 3-141 Infantry Battalion, which has been deployed to Africa. There, he and his fellow soldiers will assist in operations and peacekeeping missions.

“Everyone should have the right to be free,” Trejo said.

Alpha Company said their goodbyes to friends and family yesterday morning during a deployment ceremony in Brownsville.

Eduardo Davila felt a mix of emotions as he was saying goodbye to his mother Cecilia and his aunt Monica Herebia.

“It’s my first deployment, and my first time being away from family for a long time. I’m scared, of course, because I don’t know what to expect, but I’m also excited,” Davila said.

Davila is an only child, which makes it a bit harder to see him go, Cecilia said.

“I’m very sad, but I am proud of my son,” she said. “I hope this year goes by very fast.”

U.S. Rep. Filemon Vela, D-Brownsville, also attended the deployment ceremony. It was his first, he said.

“The honor to be here with these brave men and women and their families is mine,” he said.

On average, people live to be about 72 years old. This deployment of troops is sacrificing a year of their life that could be spent with their loved ones to fight for their country.

“And that’s just the sacrifices of this deployment,” he said.

Alpha Company Commander Charles Reinartz said commanders normally rotate every two years. When the deployment came up, he felt it was right to stay with and mentor the men he trained with every day.

During the ceremony, he promised to guide and protect each and every member of Alpha Company.

“As company commander, I will bring you back home, and I will fight for every single one of you,” he said.

He did that, he said, because almost 50 percent of the soldiers in his unit have never seen combat.

“Whatever we can do to ensure they come back, we will,” Reinartz said. “It’s our version of mentorship.”

Cecilia had some advice for any parent whose child wants to join the military.

“Let them go because it’s something they want to do in life. We have never stopped (Davila’s) ideas. If he wants to do it, ok and God bless him,” Cecilia said.