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FAIRBANKS - An aviation unit from Fort Wainwright is being deployed to Iraq.
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The Army announced Friday that about 10 Chinook helicopters were to leave early Saturday and Sunday for Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage. There, the aircraft will be prepared for shipping and then loaded on a ship at the Port of Anchorage bound for the Middle East.
About 200 soldiers will begin leaving Fairbanks in July to meet up with the Chinooks and begin their estimated 15-month tour.
While deployed, the unit will provide tactical aviation support for Marine units in western Iraq, according to the Army.
Chinooks are heavy-lift, twin engine helicopters. They can each hold 33 troops and three crew members, or 24 stretchers if used for medical missions. The Chinooks are used in Afghanistan and Iraq primarily for transporting equipment and personnel or for rescue and medical operations.
The soldiers will join a handful of Fort Wainwright soldiers and a few hundred airmen and Air National Guardsmen from Eielson Air Force Base and several hundred Alaska National Guard soldiers currently deployed around the world.