PENDLETON - After "shopping for weather," five Chinook helicopter crews of U.S. Army National Guard D Company/113th Aviation took off around noon Tuesday for training at Fort Sill, Okla.

Icy conditions had forced them to cancel their original plans to leave Monday.

"We have to head west to head south to head east," Capt. David Doran said of their unusual flight route through California to Oklahoma.

The Chinooks, each with a crew of five, should arrive at Fort Sill on Thursday, he said. An advance party of another five troops left for Oklahoma on Monday.

The rest of the 85 soldiers heading to Oklahoma before being deployed to Afghanistan will leave via a commercial air carrier today.

The group will train for what officials will only describe as a "brief" period with the rest of 113th Aviation, now based in Nevada.

Doran said after training they will leave immediately for Afghanistan.

"We won't be able to come home after our training," Doran said. "There may be a chance that we can have some weekend leaves so our families can come see us there, but the families will have to do that out of their own pockets."

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