Friday, June 6, 2008

Guard’s Revolving Door: One Iowa Unit Deploys While Another Returns

In a span of three days, Iowans said goodbye to 160 of the state's National Guard soldiers as they deployed to Iraq, while simultaneously preparing for the homecoming of 120 guardsmen.

Three community sendoff ceremonies were held on Thursday for a Boone-based Iowa Army National Guard unit deployed as part of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the global war on terror.

Approximately 160 Soldiers are being mobilized from Company B, 248th Aviation Support Battalion (formerly known as Company D, 109th Aviation), Iowa Army National Guard. The unit is based in Boone, with detachments in Waterloo (Detachment 3) and Davenport (Detachment 4). The unit will travel to its mobilization station at Fort Sill, Okla., for additional training before deploying to the Central Command theater of operations.

The unit’s mission is to provide aviation maintenance support to a combat aviation brigade, which includes aircraft diagnostics, repair, maintenance and testing. The unit will be serving its third deployment since the 9/11 attacks in 2001, including a mobilization from November 2001 to November 2002, and again from February to December 2003.

833rd returning home from Iraq

Meanwhile, a homecoming ceremony for an Ottumwa-based Army National Guard unit, the 833rd Engineer Company (formerly known as Company B, 224th Engineer Battalion), will be held at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the Hellyer Student Life Center, Indian Hills Community College – the same venue where community members bade farewell to the 833rd nearly a year ago.

Approximately 120 soldiers of the 833rd were mobilized to Fort McCoy, Wis., last June, before being deployed to the Central Command Theater of Operations in Iraq. The unit is completing its second tour of duty in less than four years. During its previous deployment to Iraq from October 2004 through December 2005, the unit earned recognition for its abilities and expertise in finding and defusing improvised explosive devices.

The 833rd’s mission was to increase the combat effectiveness of United States and coalition forces by removing physical obstacles, identifying and reducing minefields and explosive devices, executing mobility missions, emplacing barriers, constructing protective positions and performing infantry missions as required.

During their deployment, soldiers of the 833rd Engineer Co. conducted 495 combat patrols and found 100 IEDs and 13 pieces of unexploded ordnance. They successfully destroyed 55 of these explosive devices in place, clearing more than 40,000 miles of roads, making them safer for coalition forces.

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