Iowans across the state are saying good-bye to some 700 friends and neighbors this week as the men and women head out for federal active duty in the Iowa National Guard. Community members turned out in Shenandoah at one of the ceremonies to send off members of the 168th infantry. Shenandoah Mayor Gregg Connell recalled the unit’s history as they last went off to fight in World War Two.He says almost 63 years ago, February 28, 1941, 116 young soldiers from company marched down Main Street and into history. Connell says some call those soldiers part of “The Greatest Generation of America,” but he said to the 700 children lining the street today to see them off, “You are the Greatest Generation.” Iowa Guard Lieutenant Colonel Tom Stayton talked about the soldiers duty in modern times.He says in the last decade, with the demise of the Soviet Union, the collapse of the Berlin Wall, and the “overwhelming defeat” of the Iraqi Army in the first Gulf War, the Department of Defense has drawn down the military. He says in the last decade we’ve told are soldiers you will become a greater part of our defense team. He says soldiers have been told “it’s not a matter of if you will go, it’s a matter of when. Shenandoah residents lined the streets as the soldiers left by bus to go off for further training. There was also a sendoff today for members of the unit from Council Bluffs and at Camp Dodge for 50 soldiers in six different units. Wednesday sendoffs are set for members of the 168th in Iowa City, Denison, Corning and Carroll and in Sioux City for two groups of soldiers. Thursday residents of Davenport, Waterloo and Cedar Rapids will hold sendoffs for 175 soldiers from different units.
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