Vermont Air National Guard members headed to Iraq

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(Host) About 250 members of the Vermont Air National Guard will soon head to Iraq to provide support for the Iraq war.

VPR’s John Dillon reports:

(Dillon) This will be the third deployment to the war zone in four years for members of the Air Guard. The pilots and crew will take along a contingent of F-16s to provide protection for soldiers on the ground.

Colonel Phil Murdock is commander of the 158th Fighter Wing.

(Murdock) “Our mission is supporting the Army and the Marine folks on the ground, and the other coalition partners. We look at as they’re over there doing the real hard work and we’re over there helping them out as much as we possibly can.

(Dillon) About 40 Air Guard members will leave in late July as an advance party. The rest will arrive in early August. Murdock said the group is made up entirely of volunteers.

(Murdock) “It’s a real testament to their patriotism and to their abilities to complete the mission. It’s one of those things where you hope you don’t have to go again. But as long as we’re needed and there’s a need for us, people are willing to step up to the plate and do what they can do to help out.”

(Dillon) Murdock said the deployment will last approximately 45 days.

For VPR News, I’m John Dillon.

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