A ceremony at ten this (Wednesday) morning salutes about 20 Iowa National Guard soldiers in a highly-skilled engineering team being called to active duty. Major Greg Hapgood says they’re firefighters and paramedics who work in emergency services in their civilian life. Those skills will be used in their support of the U-S military abroad. Hapgood says it’s “somewhat unclear” where the mobilized troops will be assigned. That kind of information, he says, is “held closely” so it doesn’t jeopardize missions, but it looks likely they’ll travel to the Persian Gulf region to serve. The major admits this is the kind of deployment that leaves a big gap back home in the communities that will be missing these firefighters and EMT’s. Hapgood says five soldiers from this unit work at the Des Moines fire department, and he says their skills are critical at home as well as with the Guard. As professionals, he says they’ll do their best whether here at home or “somewhere across the water.” Hapgood says there’s no sign military activations will slow down following the capture of Saddam Hussein. In the next five days alone, the Iowa National Guard has three sendoffs scheduled for about 100 soldiers in all. He adds 450 members of another unit are currently on alert, and though they’ve had no formal mobilization orders, that could come in the spring. Two send-off ceremonies will be held at Camp Dodge on Saturday.
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