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Sam Penrod reporting Even though President Bush will announce an end to major combat, more Utahns were deployed today to the Middle East.
13 members of a Quartermaster Unit based in Lehi, which specializes in purifying water, left early this morning for their mission to the Persian Gulf. They are now part of Phase Two of the Iraqi campaign to stabilize and rebuild the war torn country.
Yet another sendoff of national guard reserves said goodbye to their families early this morning, after receiving orders over the weekend for a one-year call-up assignment to Iraq. While this is a support mission, there's still concern from family members seeing their loved ones going to a hostile area.
Sgt. Troy Taylor/Utah National Guard: "WE'RE NOT COMBAT, WE'RE SERVICE SUPPORT ANYTHING CAN HAPPEN WE UNDERSTAND THAT, BUT WE ARE PREPARED GO DO WHAT THEY DO BEST."
The unit will go to Fort Dix, New Jersey, before being sent to the Middle East. Their assignment is making water supplies safe for the troops and civilians.
Sgt. Carlyle Smith/Utah National Guard: "WITHOUT WATER YOU CAN'T LIVE AND THE WATER NEEDS TO BE CLEAN AND PURE, AND SO THAT'S WHAT WE'RE DOING NOT ONLY STORAGE OF IT BUT DISTRIBUTION OF THE WATER AND ITS VERY NEEDED OVER THERE."
This is the latest unit called to active duty over the last several months. Utah has two thousand National guard troops deployed and today's unit may be the last involved in Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Lt. Col. Brad Blackner/Utah National Guard: "WE CONTINUE TO DO THE SAME THINGS WE HAVE DONE OVER THE LAST FEW MONTHS, WE CONTINUE TO PREPARE, WE HOPE THERE ARE NO MORE UNITS MOBILIZED, BUT IN THE EVENT THERE ARE WE WANT TO BE PREPARED."
So far, there is no news of when any Utah Guardsmen overseas will return home. All of the units called up are on one-year assignments.
"Lt. Col Blackner/Utah National Guard: "STILL THE PLAN IS UP TO ONE YEAR FOR ALL THE UNITS THAT HAVE BEEN MOBILZED, IF THEY COME HOME EARLY GREAT, BUT WE ARE STILL PLANNING FOR UP TO A YEAR."
And orders have changed for the 222nd Field Artillery unit from Southern Utah. Instead of heading for the middle east, the unit will go to Fort Lewis, Washington, to be involved in training other troops.