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Local supporters welcome as troops depart for Mideast

MONTEVIDEO -- More than 550 area soldiers assigned to the 1st Battalion, 151st Field Artillery will depart Sunday for training in preparation for deployment to Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The unit will board flights from Sioux Falls, S.D., en route to Fort Hood, Texas, before deploying later this year to Camp Virginia, Kuwait. They are expected to return to Minnesota in April of next year.

The public is welcome to attend send-offs Sunday in the following communities:

Olivia: Soldiers will arrive at 4:45 a.m. in the Citizens State Bank parking lot and depart Olivia at 5 a.m. The buses will proceed west on U.S. Highway 212, reaching Danube at 5:05 a.m.; Renville at 5:15 a.m.; and Sacred Heart at 5:25 a.m. The buses will reach Granite Falls at 5:35 a.m.

Montevideo: Soldiers will depart from the Training and Community Center and board two buses at 4:45 a.m. The buses will take U.S. Highway 212 and are expected to arrive in Granite Falls by 5:05 a.m.

Appleton: Soldiers will depart the armory at 7 a.m. Buses will proceed to Highways 119/40 to Madison.

Morris: Soldiers will depart the armory at 6:30 a.m. on state Highway 28 to Graceville and Highway 75 to Ortonville.