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Soldiers depart Weslaco armory to prepare for Iraq deployment

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Posted: Thursday, September 10, 2009 12:00 am

WESLACO — More than 500 soldiers from the Texas Army National Guard departed Thursday morning for Fort Hood for three weeks of training in preparation for deployment to Iraq.

Following the training, the solders will return home and will then depart for Fort Bliss and ultimately Iraq on Oct. 4 to take part in Operation Iraqi Freedom, said Army National Guard Capt. Perfecto Facundo.

Officials said the deployment would last 12 months.

“The main emphasis is a soldier’s skills training,” Facundo said of both the upcoming training exercises and ultimate deployment. “We’re going to work on convoy, security and patrol.”

As the solemn-faced troops sat on buses awaiting their departure from the Sgt. Tomas Garces Texas Army National Guard Armory, Facundo said the soldiers have been training for their upcoming mission since February.

“This is the second three-week training we’re going to do,” he said. City officials are planning a send-off ceremony for the day before the soldiers depart for Fort Bliss.

“What we’re doing is still part of the pre-mobilization,” Facundo said. “Right now, we’re trying to knock out as many tasks as possible.”

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Mike Gonzalez is a reporter for the Mid-Valley Town Crier.

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