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N.C. National Guardsmen Honored In Ceremony Before Heading To Iraq

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FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — Nearly 5,000 members of the National Guard received a proper send-off before heading to



Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, joined Gov. Mike Easley in the farewell ceremony at the Crown Coliseum Thursday as the guardsmen got ready to go to Iraq.

"You are ready, and we are ready to support you all the way," Easley said at the ceremony.

The activation of the 30th Heavy Separate Brigade, based out of Clinton, marks the largest call-up of North Carolina National Guard soldiers since World War II.

It is the first N.C. National Guard Combat Brigade to deploy in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

"I'm ready to do my job. That's what I signed up for," said 2nd Lt. Lawrence Judkins.

WRAL was with the brigade as they trained at Fort Polk, Louisiana in January.

Officials said the troops may be deployed for at least a year.

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