PIERRE, S.D. (AP) — South Dakota National Guard soldiers bound for half a year of duty in Afghanistan have left home.

The 68 members of the 152nd Combat Sustainment Support Battalion flew out of Pierre on Sunday, headed for Fort Hood in Texas. The soldiers will go through several weeks of final training there before heading overseas.

About 400 people turned out Saturday for a ceremony to send off the soldiers. KCCR radio reports that on Sunday, law officers and motorcycle riders escorted buses carrying the soldiers to the airport. The Pierre and Fort Pierre fire departments used ladder trucks to display an American flag that the buses passed beneath as they left the armory.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.