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Originally published Thursday, March 19, 2009 at 8:44 AM

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Ceremonies scheduled for 300 South Dakota Guard members headed to Iraq for a year

Deployment ceremonies are scheduled for 300 members of the South Dakota Army National Guard headed to Iraq for a year.

RAPID CITY, S.D. —

Deployment ceremonies are scheduled for 300 members of the South Dakota Army National Guard headed to Iraq for a year.

The soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 147th Field Artillery and 147th Forward Support Company will be honored on April 17 in Watertown and Sioux Falls and on April 18 in Yankton and Mitchell.

They'll travel to Fort Hood, Texas, to finish mobilizing before providing security in Iraq.

Since the 2001 terrorist attacks, the South Dakota National Guard has mobilized more than 3,150 soldiers and 1,000 airmen.

More than 50 soldiers and airmen from the Guard are currently on duty in Iraq, Afghanistan and other locations in Southwest Asia and Europe.

"We're working on those details now," Maj. Brendan Murphy, South Dakota Army National Guard public affairs officer, said of the deployment ceremonies. He said it takes time and coordination to plan four ceremonies.

The units to be deployed are:

— Headquarters and Headquarters Battery, in Watertown and Sisseton. Its ceremony is set for 10 a.m. April 17 at Watertown High School.

— Battery A, in Aberdeen. Its ceremony is planned for 2 p.m. April 17 in the Barnett Center on the Northern State University campus in Aberdeen.

— Battery C, in Yankton. The ceremony is set for 10 a.m. April 18 at Yankton Middle School.

— 147th Forward Support Company, in Mitchell, Sioux Falls and Webster. Its ceremony is at 2 p.m. April 18 at Mitchell Christian School.

Battery B of Salem and Sioux Falls will not deploy because of its return last October from a yearlong deployment in Iraq.

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Soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 147th Field Artillery got their mobilization orders in September. Murphy said they will travel to Fort Hood, Texas, to complete the mobilization process before deploying.

The South Dakota Army National Guard units will conduct a security force mission in Iraq, Murphy said.

To prepare, Charlie Battery held a 15-day training exercise in January at Fort Chaffee, Ark. The 135 members of the Yankton-based unit trained with members from Alpha Battery and the Battalion Headquarters in Watertown.

Charlie Battery is no stranger to deployment, having been activated three times.

"My hats off to every soldier in the unit," Murphy said. "They have been through a lot, and they are prepared for what lies ahead."

During its 2005-2006 deployment to Baghdad, Charlie Battery lost four soldiers.

Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company

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