10 Blackhawks deploy to Iraq

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- It's a rare sight -- nearly a dozen Blackhawk helicopters taking to the sky in a deployment to a war zone.

Normally they leave one or two at a time, but at Papago Park Military Reservation at 7 a.m., 10 Blackhawks took off.

Families gathered at the 56th Street and McDowell Road facility to say goodbye to their loved ones Tuesday morning. This is the second in a deployment of some 250 Arizona National Guardsmen to Iraq.They're with 2-285th Assault Aviation Battalion Department.

"I'm anxious. I want to get it going," said Sgt. Maj. Calvin Monroe.

The first stop for the troops is Fort Sill, Okla. for training.

"What we'll do over there is collective training as a unit, and go through practice exercises for combat operations," Monroe explained.

This is the battalion's first mobilization. Many of those being deployed today have not been sent overseas before, so while they're axious to complete their mission, they're not exactly sure what to expect.

"We've made efforts to reach out to the unit that's in country right now, get information. And we've asked for questions from the soldiers, what they're concerned about, and tried to get some of those things answered for them," Monroe said. "There's always that little shade of unknown [when heading into a war zone ... ].

"If we know our mission and we know our job, the rest of it comes easy."

The unit's deployment is expected to last about a year.