GROVE CITY, Pa. -- A large crowd of area residents showed up at the Pennsylvania National Guard Armory on George Junior Road to say goodbye to members of the Battery D, 229th Field Artillery unit, which was activated last week.
The 61 members of the unit have been deployed to Europe for a tour of duty as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, the war on terrorism. The activation period is one year, but the unit is expected to spend only six months overseas.
Word about the deployment spread through town Wednesday, and the Grove City Chamber of Commerce quickly put together a ceremony honoring the Guardsmen before they shipped out at 11 a.m. Saturday.
Friends, family and other supporters showed up at the armory for the 8:45 a.m. program, which included a presentation of a Pennsylvania state flag by Sen. Robert Robbins of Greenville, R-50th, and a short speech by state Rep. Richard Stevenson of Grove City, R-8th.
The flag will be carried by the unit while it is overseas.
The Pine and Grove City fire departments sent firetrucks to the armory to escort the unit out of town.
The ceremony ended with a red, white and blue balloon release.
A chamber of commerce spokeswoman said the program was kept brief intentionally to allow Guardsmen to spend as much time as possible with their families.