By Cleve Bryan


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HAMMONTON, N.J. (CBS) — A farewell ceremony was held Friday for 120 members of the New Jersey Army National Guard. The Hammonton community made sure soldiers felt appreciated as they head out for a year-long deployment in the Middle East.

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About 60 members of the 104th Brigade Engineer Battalion said goodbye to loved ones at the Kathedral Event Center. Bravo Companies One and Two are heading to Bahrain and Jordan to reinforce security operations in the Middle East.

As part of a rotation with National Guard from other states, from January to May, New Jersey is sending one of its largest deployments of guardsmen since World War II. Most of the Bravo Companies are heading overseas for the first time.

“Lot of young soldiers, me being first-time deployed myself, so it’s going to be a lot of new experiences, but we’re ready for it,” said Lt. Nicholas Priessnitz.

“I’m excited, get to do something new,” said Spc. Oswaldo Velaz Covalles. “It’s a dream. I didn’t join the Army not to deploy, so I’ve been waiting for this day.”

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While these soldiers are heading to Bahrain and Jordan, others will be heading to southwest Asia and the Horn of Africa, as all of them will be supporting U.S. security missions abroad.