More than 60 National Guard soldiers based out of St. Cloud are being deployed this week for stateside training before heading to Kuwait to provide aerial support for troops in the region.

A send-off ceremony is scheduled for 1 p.m. Monday at the Guard Army Aviation Support Facility at the St. Cloud Regional Airport.

From there, the 51 men and 10 women head to Fort Hood in Texas, where they will train with 75 Guard members from Iowa and then head on to the Middle East.

While on its nine-month deployment, the St. Cloud-based unit will provide aerial support for troop and combat operations. The unit flies CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopters, which are capable of transporting personnel and equipment.

The unit has adopted the communications call sign "All Night Long," since most of its missions are conducted throughout the night, the Guard's deployment announcement read.

This is the first deployment for 40 of the 61 soldiers, who range in age from 19 to 41, according to the Guard.

"All of our training and previous deployments have prepared us, and I'm confident in our ability to safely and professionally execute this mission," Capt. Vincent Gonsior, commander of the deploying troops, said in a statement.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482