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Hastings-based National Guard unit called back to Iraq

About 50 Hastings-based soldiers from the Minnesota National Guard will soon be returning to Iraq for their second deployment in four years.

The soldiers are part of Charlie Company of the 834th Aviation Support Battalion of the 34th Combat Aviation Brigade. They'll be leaving near the end of May for an approximately year-long tour, Shane Hudella, a spokesman for the National Guard said.

A farewell sendoff for the soldiers is planned for 1 p.m., Sunday, May 4, in the gym at Hastings High School. Hudella said the event will include political and National Guard speakers and will last about an hour.

About five members of Hastings-based unit are Hastings residents, Hudella said.

The unit's last deployment was from March 2004 to September 2005.

According to the Minnesota National Guard Web site, the "834th Aviation Support Battalion is an Army National Guard battalion ... that provides logistics, transportation, medical, maintenance and communications support for the 34th Combat Aviation Brigade.

The soldiers of the 834th Aviation Support Battalion support the systems that enable UH-60 Blackhawk and CH-47 Chinook helicopters to perform their missions."

According to the Web site, as of April 17, there were 500 Minnesota National Guard members serving in Iraq, 25 in Afghanistan, 400 in Kosovo and 400 elsewhere around the world fighting the global war on terrorism.