Crist joins farewell to Fla. National Guard unit

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) - Crist wished 175 members of the 779th Engineer Battalion well on its upcoming deployment to Iraq at a ceremony Tuesday in the Capitol courtyard. The Tallahassee-based troops will ship out after a couple weeks of training in Wisconsin.

The 779th is the first major unit participating in a deployment of up to 4,600 Florida guardsmen to Iraq and Afghanistan continuing through January. It's the second-largest deployment for the Florida Guard. The biggest was about 5,500 troops in 2004.

More than 11,000 of Florida's 12,000 guardsmen, though, will remain in the state for the hurricane season.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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