June 2, 2010

Guardsmen sent off with hugs

From staff and news service reports

Gov. John Baldacci, both of Maine's U.S. senators and Reps. Chellie Pingree and Mike Michaud joined the send-off Saturday for 175 Maine National Guard soldiers who ship out this weekend for deployment to Afghanistan.

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Dave Nelson of Harrington gets goodbye hugs from his nieces and nephews at a send-off ceremony for members of the 1136th Transportation Company of the Maine National Guard in Orono on Saturday.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

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Staff Sgt. Toby Pond from New Sharon gets a hug from his 2-year-old niece Lili Phillips as he and members of the 1136th Transportation Company of the Maine National Guard were given a send-off ceremony at Collins Center for the Arts at the University of Maine in Orono.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer

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The Guard's 1136th Transportation Company will leave Orono today for Fort Hood, Texas, where they'll get more training and then be deployed to Kabul, Afghanistan. There, the soldiers' primary job will be to provide security for bases and for convoys in the region around Kabul, said Capt. Pete Carter, the unit's commanding officer.

The soldiers have undergone training for the new assignment, and they're equipped with additional weaponry like M-4 rifles and night-vision equipment, he said.

Their presence will bring the number of Maine National Guard soldiers in Afghanistan to about 300. Maine's Bravo Company, 3-172nd Mountain Infantry Battalion, is already in the country.

Other New England states are gearing up with major deployments of National Guard units. Vermont is in the midst of its largest single National Guard deployment since World War II, and its 1,500 soldiers overseas represent roughly half of that state's National Guard personnel. New Hampshire also will have half of its troops deployed as additional units leave in coming months.


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Additional Photos

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Brothers Scott Murray of Burnham and Rick Murray of Fairfield pose for a photo together.

John Patriquin/Staff Photographer


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