Sendoff ceremonies are planned this week for about 500 Iowa Army National Guard soldiers mobilized with the First Battalion, 133rd Infantry. Retired Colonel Robert King says it’s another chapter in an old Iowa tradition. King says since 9-11, the Iowa Guard has mobilized more than 8-thousand people. They’re serving today in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Kosovo, not counting the entire infantry battalion of more than 500 getting ready to go. King says Iowans “have stepped up to the plate.” King says he rarely hears disparaging comment about the service, or what today’s soldiers are doing. Since 9-11 he says thousands of young people have marched through the armory doors to do the things they need to do, leaving their jobs, friends and families. He says many have told him in person, via e-mail and phone that they believe they’re doing the right thing. King says the 500 leaving half-a-dozen Iowa communities this week will joining 140 soldiers sent off in September to begin training at Camp Shelby in Mississippi. They’ll do some training there, he says, preparing to go overseas as a “total infantry battalion task force,” in early January. The battalion leaving this week will include about 110 soldiers from Waterloo Cedar Falls, 80 from Iowa Falls, 70 from Oelwein, 85 from Council Bluffs, 105 from Dubuque and Peosta, and about fifty from Algona. The six Iowa communities all have sendoff ceremonies scheduled for Friday.
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