278th National Guard troop departs for Iraq   

From Staff Reports

  BRISTOL, Tenn. -- The 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment of the National Guard based here departed Sunday for duty in Iraq. A send-off ceremony for the regiment was held Saturday at Viking Hall.
  The troop will first undergo training at Camp Shelby, Miss. before going to Iraq on peacekeeping duty. More than 1,800 family members, friends and supporters applauded as the soldiers marched into the civic center. Soldiers filed beneath a giant American flag suspended from two fire ladders as Revolutionary and Civil War re-enactors stood at attention.
  Each soldier was presented with a rose, a point-and-shoot camera and a care package. Retired Col. Ben Covington also gave soldiers 400 stamped postcards.
  More than a third of the forces now in Iraq are National Guard soldiers. Eighty-one guard soldiers have died in Iraq since the war began, 29 of them in an upsurge of violence in April and May.
  Lawmakers voted Thursday to increase the army's size by 20,000.