JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- Along with supporting the state’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, assisting law enforcement during civil unrest and dropping nearly half a million gallons of water on multiple wildfires across the state, the crews from 1st Battalion, 168th General Support Aviation also ramped up for an overseas deployment.“I am so proud to say this group of soldiers is the right group going to the right place at the right time,” said Lt. Col. John King, Commander of 1st Battalion, 168th General Support Aviation. “This battalion has had a busy year, and truly exemplifies their motto, ready when needed.”During a deployment ceremony on Feb. 11, 2021 at the Army Aviation Support Facility, Joint Base Lewis-McChord families and friends helped say farewell to nearly 200 Guardsmen who departed for Fort Hood before deploying to the Middle East to support Operations Inherent Resolve and Spartan Shield. These deployments are just part of the history and tradition of the Washington Army National Guard answering the call.“I look back at the 2007 and 2011 deployments and those really shaped our organization and who we have been,” said Col. Dan Brewer, commander of the 96th Aviation Troop Command. “As I walk through the halls of the flight facility I am seeing so many new soldiers in our formation that have never deployed. This will be your opportunity to build your battalion and the identity that you want for it.”The Washington Army National Guard aviation community has a long tradition of mobilizations in support of on-going operations around the world. In the last 20 years aviators from Washington have supported every major operation in the Middle East, including Operations Freedom Sentinel, Iraqi and Enduring Freedom and New Dawn among others. Last year nearly 250 members of Bravo Company, 1st Battalion, 168th General Support Aviation deployed to Afghanistan in support of on-going operations.“I am so proud of this unit,” said Brig. Gen. Dan Dent, Commanding General of the Washington Army National Guard. “I am proud of the way they have been trained, proud to again deliver them to a mob site, trained to the highest possible standard, proud of them for upholding that tradition.”