ABERDEEN, Md. (WJZ)– More than three dozen Maryland troops are headed to Afghanistan Friday night.

Jessica Kartalija has more on their deployment.

At the Aberdeen Proving Grounds, a ceremony honoring the deployment of the Maryland Army National Guard’s Aviation Brigade was held.

“The soldiers of Charlie Company 1st of the 169th have made a commitment and they stand strong to protect you and this great nation,” Capt. Theresa Parrotta of the Maryland National Guard said.

Forty Maryland troops will spend the next year overseas providing aerial medical coverage in the southern region of Afghanistan.

“We are a Medevac company, so basically we will be transporting any wounded civilian and military as well,” Parrotta said.

“Today this unit joins hundreds of other Maryland guardsmen serving around the world, serving in places like the Horn of Africa, the Sinai [Peninsula], Kuwait and Afghanistan,” Gen. James Adkins said.

Their deployment comes just two days after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta suggested the U.S. combat mission in Afghanistan would end in 2013– the first time Washington has discussed a possible deadline.

“Within that timeline, the transition will take place. It is already started in some areas of Afghanistan and U.S. troops are already coming home, as you know,” White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said.

But now, family and friends say goodbye as these troops prepare to spend the next year in Afghanistan.

“I am humbled by your courage, I’m humbled by your dedication. I’m humbled by your commitment and your willingness,” Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley said. “Yours is a courageous service of love in action.”

There are currently about 90,000 American troops stationed in Afghanistan.

The U.S. entered Afghanistan in 2001, following the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.


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