Three-hundred-50 Iowa National Guard troops return home Saturday, to be greeted with ceremonies in several hometowns. There’s one at the Batallion’s headquarters in Fort Dodge, and other welcome home celebrations at Algona, Storm Lake, Spencer and Estherville. Major Ed Graybill says these troops were all called up last September and activated for a year, with the option to have that term of service extended. There’s always that chance of being asked to extend your duty with a “presidential reserve call-up” which is how all the units were called for Operation Noble Eagle here in the U.S. and Operation Enduring Freedom overseas — all for one to two years, depending on the choice of the area commander and the threat level in that part of the world or the country. Major Graybill says all the returning soldiers are members of the First Battalion, 194th Field Artillery. They handle 150-millimeter howitzers — the big cannons — and as a combat arms unit they do lots of patrolling. For their missions, all in the United States, they were providing security at military installations at Michigan, Ohio and Indiana. Graybill says it was “a good mission for them,” having the entire unit called up for the first time since Korea, and the first unit that size mobilized for the War on Terror from Iowa. Soldiers will be released to their families immediately following the welcome home ceremonies, though some towns like Fort Dodge have a full slate of events planned including a community barbecue.
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