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National Guard soldiers deploy from Litchfield, Minn.

People line the street Tuesday as 95 members of the Litchfield-based 849th Mobility Augmentation Company depart for training at Ft. Bliss, Texas. The soldiers will later deploy to Afghanistan. Tribune photo by Kayla Prasek

LITCHFIELD - Friends, family members and supporters of the Minnesota National Guard 849th Mobility Augmentation Company lined the streets of Litchfield on Tuesday morning to send the soldiers off to Texas.

The soldiers of the 849th MAC, based in Litchfield, left Tuesday for pre-deployment training in Ft. Bliss, Texas. This fall, the 95 soldiers will be deployed to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

All along East 10th Street and U.S. Highway 12 in Litchfield, people came out of the businesses where they worked and parents and their children took a break from their summer routines to support the soldiers.

"It's really just part of our civic duty," Linda Davis, of Litchfield, said. "I've always tried to support any of the area troops."

Leah Mitchell, of Litchfield, brought her children out to the send-off.

"They're 7 and 5, so I explained as well as I could what was happening," Mitchell said. "It's the first time they've experienced this, so I thought it was a nice way to have an educational morning."

Micah Peterson, of Atwater, said he's had siblings be deployed, so he and his mom decided to come out Tuesday morning and support the 849th MAC.

"We're a military family, so we try to support the area soldiers in any way we can, just because we've had so much support when my brother and sister were deployed at different times," Peterson said. "It's good to give back to those who have supported you."

Dan Lundy, of Litchfield, recently moved to Minnesota, but was a member of the North Dakota National Guard right out of high school.

"I know what these guys are going through," Lundy said. "I went to the activation ceremony on Sunday too. I just figured it's a good way to support the people of this town that I just moved to."

The send-off parade included Litchfield fire, police and rescue vehicles escorting the two buses carrying the soldiers out of town along Highway 12.