The Iowa National Guard’s 1133rd Transportation Company returned from Iraq to northern Iowa over the weekend. Some 35-hundred people packed into the Mason City High School gymnasium for the welcome home ceremony on Saturday. The state guard’s top officer, Major General Ron Dardis, told the red-white-and-blue crowd the support was overwhelming.The unit has about 150 members and left Mason City in January 2003, arriving in Kuwait in April of 2003. Attendees at the ceremony included Governor Vilsack, Congressman Tom Latham, and all five members of north-central Iowa’s statehouse delegation. General Dardis says the 1133rd is one of the Iowa National Guard’s most respected units.Dardis says the 1133rd will be one of the most decorated National Guard companies in the state returning from the Iraqi operation. Iowa National Guard public affairs officer Lieutenant Colonel Gregory Hapgood says north-central Iowa showed one of the biggest turn-outs for the return of any National Guard unit in the state.Thousands of people not only lined up along State Highway 122 leading into Mason City from Interstate 35, but several hundred more stood along overpasses along I-35 from Albert Lea to Mason City, welcoming home the troops after a five-day stay at Fort McCoy, Wisconsin.
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