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N.C. National Guard Celebrates 371st Birthday

Birthday celebrations for the state National Guard honored the nearly 11,600 North Carolinians who have been deployed since Sept. 11, 2001.

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N.C. National Guard 371st  Birthday
RALEIGH, N.C. — The North Carolina National Guard celebrated its 371st birthday on Thursday and honored the thousands of servicemen and women who have been deployed since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

Celebrations for the country's oldest military arm were held in Raleigh and Charlotte. Gov. Mike Easley proclaimed "National Guard Week" and called on all North Carolinians to honor those in uniform.

"The Guard remains committed to the roots it planted nearly 400 years ago on the village green of the Massachusetts Bay Colony," Maj. Matt Handley said in a press release.

"Since that time the citizens who fill its ranks have protected the lives, liberty and property of friends, family and neighbors," Handley continued. "Though technology, weapons and geography may have changed, the mission remains the same."

Since Sept. 11, nearly 11,600 North Carolina National Guard soldiers and airmen have been called to active duty. Nearly every unit has been called to active duty or been recently placed on alert.

In December, servicemen and women were deployed in Rust Amiyah and Baghdad in Iraq, Djibouti along the Horn of Africa and Kosovo, as well as with the U.S. Border Patrol in support of Operation Jump Start.

The North Carolina Air National Guard also assisted in fighting the forest fires in the Southwest with its Modular Airborne Firefighting System-equipped C-130H Hercules cargo planes.

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