Members of a St. Cloud-based National Guard unit leave home this weekend to prepare for operations in Iraq.
The 80 soldiers are from Company B of the Second General Support Aviation Battalion. A deployment ceremony was held Saturday morning in St. Cloud to send them off on their mission. They will have two months of pre-deployment training at Fort Hood, Texas, before their 10-month deployment to Iraq.
The unit will participate in Operation New Dawn, the drawdown phase of U.S. military operations in Iraq. Members will operate out of CH-47 Chinook cargo helicopters, according to Guard spokesman Capt. Randy Belden.
"The company's mission is to provide aerial movement of troops, equipment and supplies for support of maneuver, combat and combat service support missions," he said.
The unit was first deployed to Iraq in March of 2006, but this is the first deployment for more than half of the unit's current members.
U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., was among those who attended the departure ceremony.