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HELENA - A company of soldiers with the Montana Army National Guard boarded a chartered flight early Tuesday in Helena bound for Fort Lewis, Wash., and eventual deployment to Iraq.

About 120 soldiers in the 639th Combat Sustainment Supply Company will spend the next five weeks at Fort Lewis before heading to Iraq for a yearlong tour to help move fuel and warehouse products to U.S. troops.

"I just want to get started," said Sgt. Marcus McDowell, a Helena soldier who huddled with his wife and kids before leaving Tuesday. "We've known over a year we were going to be deployed."

Chartered by Southwest Airlines, the jet left Helena around 5 a.m.

For many, the new mission represents their second in the Middle East. The 639th first deployed to Iraq in 2003 and returned in early 2005.

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