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U.S. Army National Guard Soldiers with Attack Company, 1st Battalion, 157th Infantry Regiment, Colorado Army National Guard spent more than a week in Gurnsey, Wyo., in October preparing for deployment.

Seventy Colorado Army National Guard infantrymen departed Colorado Springs on Friday in their storied unit's first deployment since World War II.

The troops — from Company A, 1st Battalion, 157th Infantry Regiment — will spend a year in the U.S. Central Command area of operations, which includes the Middle East, Northeastern Africa and South Asia, according to a Thursday news release from the Guard.

“From our command team to our individual gunners, we are all motivated and excited for this opportunity to work alongside our brothers and sister in Vermont," U.S. Army Capt. Brian Howard, company commander, said in the release.

The unit will join troops from the Vermont Army National Guard's 86th Infantry Brigade Combat Team in support of Operation Spartan Shield. Together, they'll support combatant commanders with infrastructure security forces.

“These diverse and highly skilled Colorado National Guard soldiers have volunteered to leave Colorado and serve our federal mission, defending freedom and supporting coalition forces," Laura Clellan, the adjutant general of the Colorado National Guard, said in the release. “Thank you to the families, employers and communities who support these warriors and our service members who continuing to serve our communities here in Colorado.”

The deployment is a first since World War II for one of the Colorado National Guard's oldest and most storied units. In 1945, Lt. Col. Felix Sparks led the regiment in liberating the Dachau concentration camp. The unit was the first of Allied forces to enter the camp, the oldest extermination center in Hitler’s crumbling Third Reich.

“Attack Company is proud to continue the legacy of Colorado infantry and those members that have served before us,” Howard said in the release.

The Gazette's Stephanie Earls contributed to this report.

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