Hundreds of guard soldiers deploying to Afghanistan

MENOMONIE, Wis. (AP) -- A standing-room-only crowd packed a fieldhouse at the University of Wisconsin-Stout for a send-off ceremony for nearly 400 Wisconsin Army National Guard soldiers headed for a year's deployment in Afghanistan.

The Eau Claire-headquartered 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry and its subordinate companies are part of the 32nd Red Arrow Infantry Brigade Combat Team. They will provide security for coalition forces operating in the region.

The Leader-Telegram says Gov. Tony Evers told the soldiers and their families that their sacrifice and courage helps ensure the liberties and freedoms enjoyed by Americans. Evers pledged support to those the soldiers will leave behind at home.

At the end of the ceremony, Evers presented the Wisconsin flag to officers of the 128th.

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