Iowa National Guard soldiers deploying to Afghanistan later this year will be bidding family and friends goodbye at a series of statewide receptions. Colonel Greg Hapgood says the 2,800 troops are deploying from all sections of the state.

Hapgood says they will probably have 30-35 sendoffs — beginning July 18th in Fort Dodge and continuing around the state through early August. There will be six major sendoffs for the battalion headquarters at Council Bluffs, Sioux City, Waterloo, Fort Dodge, Cedar Rapids and in Des Moines for those at Camp Dodge.Hapgood says he’s expecting large crowds and one or more of the central Iowa send-offs for the deploying troops may be held at Des Moines’ Veteran’s Auditorium.

Hapgood says they are working with the six battalion headquarters communities and may have one or more sendoffs at Vets Auditorium. He says they usually plan on about 10 family members attending a sendoff for each soldier, so for a 300 member group, there would be some 3,000 people that may attend.

Hapgood was speaking from Camp Ripley in central Minnesota where many of the deploying soldiers are now training.