BOISE -- About 60 National Guard members -- nearly all from the Treasure Valley -- are scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan as part of Blackhawk helicopter crew that will support Operation Enduring Freedom.
According to Natl. Guard Spokesman Col. Tim Marsano, the citizen soldiers are from the Company A, 1-168 General Support Aviation Battalion based at Gowen Field in Boise. Marsano says some are pilots, while others make up the unit's diverse ground support crew. The unit includes eight, UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters.
On Saturday, they group will leave Idaho and travel to Ft. Hood, Texas for the first leg of its long journey. That's where members will train and prepare for deployment for about two months. Marsano says their deployment will likely last about one year.
In a news release, Marsano wrote "the mission of the unit for this deployment is to transport personnel and equipment throughout the Afghanistan operational area -- in other words: general support to allied forces engaged in Operation Enduring Freedom."
The unit's crew members have already served overseas twice in the last decade, traveling to Southwest Asia in 2001, and assisting in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2007.
Members have also conducted safety and rescue missions here in Idaho.
Last year, crews assigned to the unit assisted in the rescue of a snowmobiler on Bennett Mountain in Elmore County. They also airlifted a stranded kayaker who was hoisted to safety from the banks of the North Fork of the Boise River.
Crew members will depart for Ft. Hood on Saturday at approximately 10 a.m.