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Soldiers, riding on buses through downtown Iowa Falls, were bid goodbye Saturday as they headed out of town on a one-year overseas deployment.

Nearly 100 soldiers from Charlie Company of the Iowa National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment left Iowa Falls on Saturday, bound for a one-year overseas deployment. Along the way, they were greeted by hundreds of well-wishers who waved flags, held signs thanked them for their service.

Saturday’s sendoff looked very different from the one that bid the soldiers goodbye before the company’s last deployment, when they went to Afghanistan in 2010. Whereas last time, hundreds of people packed into the Iowa Falls-Alden High School gym for speeches and music, this time the closed-door sendoff ceremony was broadcast live on Facebook. The change was made to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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Soldiers waved to family, friends and community members from the buses they rode on through town after a private sendoff ceremony Saturday afternoon. 

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Amber Hinck (closest to the camera) gets help from Sheila Omar and Kayli Hinck, all of Cresco, hanging a sign to say goodbye to Amber's boyfriend, Spc. Brady Vrieze, also of Cresco. Amber brought the couple's 12-week-old baby to the sendoff parade along Washington Avenue in downtown Iowa Falls Saturday afternoon.

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