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SC National Guard soldiers returning from Afghanistan Monday

COLUMBIA, SC — More than 150 South Carolina National Guard Soldiers are set to return from Afghanistan on Monday.

The Guard’s 122nd Engineer Battalion will be welcomed home at a ceremony at 7:30 p.m. at Eagle Aviation at Columbia Metropolitan Airport.

The unit mobilized in February and deployed to Afghanistan after a month of training in Texas. During their deployment, the 122nd Engineers supported route clearance missions, disassembled no longer needed bases during retrograde operations and conducted construction projects in and around eastern and northern Afghanistan, according to a release. They also assisted in training Afghan National Army engineers.

“The 122nd Engineers did an outstanding job during this critical time in Afghanistan, as military forces are drawing down and shifting their areas of operations,” Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston Jr., South Carolina’s Adjutant General, said in the release.

Livingston noted that the soldiers completed more than 400 route clearance operations, which means clearing roads of roadside bombs.

Five S.C. Guard members were killed in Iraq; 11 in Afghanistan. In all, 64 members of the U.S. military with S.C. ties have died in Iraq; 47 have died in Afghanistan

Another 150 S.C. National Guard members are expected to return from Afghanistan to the Palmetto State over the holidays. That leaves about 400 S.C. National Guard soldiers and airmen in Afghanistan, but all should be home by the end of 2014 – the deadline for U.S. troop withdrawal from the region.

About 17,000 S.C. National Guard soldiers and airmen have been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. The guard has about 12,000 members – so some have gone on more than one overseas tour since the terrorist attacks.

Gov. Nikki Haley’s husband, Michael Haley, and more than 40 other members of a Guard agriculture-training unit were welcomed home last week. Haley was the first spouse of a sitting governor to deploy to a combat zone with the National Guard, according to military groups.

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