The 309th Engineering Company of U.S. Army Reserves found a lot of friends in their midst at Central Lakes College today (Monday, Aug. 23) as the fall semester began at CLC. The Brainerd campus hosted a deployment ceremony in the air-conditioned gym, where families and friends packed the bleachers and observed several flag presentations, including one from CLC to the unit for its time in Afghanistan. CLC President Larry Lundblad received a plaque from the 309th for hosting the event and showing continued support for troops and the returning veterans who may pursue educational opportunities following their discharge. Families had an opportunity to say good-bye to their beloved armed service relatives during the one-hour period that included the ceremony. The soldiers received an escort on their way to Fort McCoy, Wis., as member of the Brainerd Patriot Guard and law enforcement personnel assisted in a caravan of security and support for troops headed to Afghanistan. The Brainerd Police Department assisted with traffic control along College Drive, which ordinarily is a busy road on the first day of the term and will be an even busier thoroughfare when the Brainerd School District begins its school year Sept. 7.