Members of Company E, Hamlet, 1/120th Combined Armed Battalion, were among some 4,000 soldiers of the N.C. National Guard’s 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team involved in a deployment ceremony at Crown Coliseum in Fayetteville Tuesday. The unit is headed for Iraq for its second deployment to that country. Scheduled to speak at the event were N.C. Gov. Beverly Perdue, West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin, and Gen. George W. Casey Jr., U.S. Army Chief of Staff; and Chief of the National Guard Bureau Gen. Craig McKinley. Families and friends of the soldiers were present at the ceremony. Although most of the soldiers live in North Carolina, the 30th HBCT also includes a battalion from West Virginia and a company from Colorado. “You’re citizen-soldiers in the finest tradition,” said Army Secretary Pete Geren, asking soldiers sitting in the front row to stand at ease. “We owe you a debt that we can never repay.” Geren called the soldiers’ pending service the “heavy burden of freedom since 9-11.” North Carolina Rep. Bob Etheridge, whose district includes parts of the Fayetteville region, added: “You are ordinary Americans that have been chosen to do an extraordinary job. Together, we pray that God may keep you safe.” Sgt. Jobel Barbosa, a driver for E Company, said he was ready to go after months of training. “I just want to get it over with,” said Barbosa, 29, of Hamlet. “We’ve trained. We prepared. Now it’s time to get over there.” He said he would miss his family, including his mother and his 10-year-old daughter, Christian. “It’s not easy leaving. But the sooner I leave, the quicker I can get back. I told them not to worry, but I know they will,” he said. “I’m going to think about them every day. But I promised them I’ll stay safe.” The 30th was last deployed to Iraq in 2004 for Operation Iraqi Freedom. It was the first National Guard Combat Team to enter Iraq. Co. E was put on alert for possible activation on Oct. 22, 2007. On November 16, 2008, prior to Co. E leaving for training, a deployment ceremony for the unit was held at Cole Auditorium. They left Dec. 1, 2008, for Fort Stewart, Ga.; then Camp Shelby, Miss.; and final training at the National Training Center, Ft. Irwin in the Mojave Desert, Calif. Training focused on counter insurgency operations, civil affairs and traditional combat. The total number of months on federal duty will be 16 months. Co. E will be carrying with it a City of Hamlet flag. The mission of Co. E in the first deployment was to assist in subduing the enemy. This time it will be to establish a stable environment for Democracy in Iraq, said Lt. Col. Jack C. Mellott, 1/120th’s commanding officer. The unit is expected to be among the last brigades sent to Iraq as the United States reduces forces there.