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Farewell, Charlie

Despite a chilly wind, people lined Atlantic Avenue in Morris Sunday morning to send off members of the National Guard for deployment in Iraq.

Area residents were up early on Sunday to line the streets and bid National Guard troops farewell as they depart on a year-long deployment in the Middle East.

The Guard soldiers boarded buses at the Morris National Guard Armory at 6:15 a.m. Sunday. The buses were escorted along Atlantic Avenue in Morris by law enforcement, the Morris Fire Department and members of the Patriot Guard, as well as a caravan of family.

The buses also traveled through Alberta, Chokio, Graceville and Ortonville on their way to Sioux Falls, S.D. From South Dakota, the troops flew to Fort Hood, Texas, before deploying later this year to Camp Virginia, Kuwait.

Some 560 soldiers with the Minnesota Army National Guard's 1st Battalion 151st Artillery are being deployed to the Middle East. The soldiers are deploying from units in Montevideo, Olivia, Appleton, Marshall, Madison, Morris and Ortonville. They are expected to return to Minnesota in April of next year.