NORTH CANTON, Ohio -- 580 Ohio National Guard members, who are part of an armored brigade combat team, will soon be headed to the Middle East to serve as part of "Operation Spartan Shield."
On Sunday, in front of their families, friends and many of the state's leading political figures, the soldiers marched in to applause at the Canton Memorial Civic Center to begin their "Call to Duty" send-off ceremony.
The group will be based out of Kuwait, but may be sent to other areas.
Representative Anthony Gonzalez told them, "When you're over in Iraq, you will never walk alone," indicating that the support from everyone at home will be with them.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Maj. Gen. John C. Harris Jr., Ohio adjutant general, sent off the unit. Governor Mike DeWine praised not only the dedication of the soldiers, but also thanked their families.
Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose, who served in the Special Forces and was deployed in Iraq, told them some of the toughest people he's ever met are the families of service members.
He also told them to remember their duty.
"You're well trained," LaRose said. "And, you will perform admirably."
The deployment is suppose to last about a year.
"Godspeed," Governor DeWine told the soldiers. "And, thank you."