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      Nat'l Guard soldiers head for Afghanistan

      Nine mid-Missouri National Guard soldiers will soon be leaving for Afghanistan.

      The Jefferson City-based unit said goodbye to family and friends Saturday morning during a short ceremony at the Jefferson City Flight Facility.

      In attendance was Gov. Jay Nixon.

      The soldiers will fly distinguished visitors and VIPs, around Afghanistan. It's the same job the unit does at home when they're not deployed.

      The unit will fly in a C-12 Huron, a twin-engine turboprop plane. Most of the nine soldiers are pilots.

      For some, this is their second or third tour. For others, it's their first time overseas.

      "The young kids, being their first time, they don't know what to expect," said Chief Warrant Officer 5 Don Muschler. "They hadn't been there. Some of them have never been out of the country before."

      The soldiers will head to Fort Benning, Ga., to complete their training. They will be sent to Afghanistan in about a week. A typical deployment usually lasts about a year.

      "It's our job, as leaders, to keep an eye on them, mentor them," said Muschler. "Get them through this tour of duty and bring them home safe."