A southeast Iowa National Guard unit that’s been on standby for activation now knows when they’ll be heading out. Guard spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Greg Hapgood says the 224th engineer battalion will go on active duty in October.
He says the unit has armories in a number of different towns, including Fairfield, Burlington, Ottumwa, Mount Pleasant and Keokuk. They have command and control of the 834th engineer company in Davenport. He says they’re being called up for 18 months for Operation Iraqi Freedom and he says it looks like they’ll head to the Persian Gulf. Hapgood says there are around 500 members in the unit — making it one of the largest to be deployed.
He says the largest mobilization since 9-11 was 700 soldiers from Task Force 168, which is currently serving in Afghanistan. He says the 500 soldiers of the 224th would be one of the largest single units mobilized since 9-11. Hapgood says the 224th is a multipurpose unit that does a lot of heavy lifting.
He says they have heavy equipment to place and remove mines, they help build and remove obstacles and offensive and defensive fighting positions. They can also provide support for infantry or combat operations as needed. Hapgood says there are now 15-hundred troops on active duty.
He says there’s been an additional 180 soldiers from Sheldon called up for later this fall, added to the 224th, will put the number of Iowa troops on active duty near two-thousand.