Sendoff ceremonies are being held in several locations today (Friday) for about 500 Iowa Army National Guard soldiers mobilized with the First Battalion, 133rd Infantry. In Algona, Mayor Lynn Kueck spoke at the Algona armory. The mayor said “When you give of your possessions, you give very little. When you give of yourself, you truly give.” Over the next 20 months he says the troops will give of themselves, and the folks back home will help keep their families safe and ensure they’ll return to the life the knew when they left. The battalion leaving this week includes about 110 soldiers from Waterloo Cedar Falls, 80 from Iowa Falls, 70 from Oelwein, 85 from Council Bluffs, 105 from Dubuque and Peosta, and about fifty from Algona. All six Iowa communities had sendoff ceremonies scheduled for Friday. The 500 soldiers bidding farewell this week to friends and families in half-a-dozen Iowa communities may live and train in different towns, but Iowa national Guard spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Greg Hapgood says they’ll all be in the same unit on active duty — and they’re ready for that. Hapgood says it might sound odd that you can take that many people from around the state and they won’t have any problem working together and understanding each other, but they’re all Iowa soldiers who understand their job very well and they’re all ready to go the job. All are members of what’s dubbed the “Iron Battalion.”It dates from World War Two, when the unit had more consecutive days of combat than any other. For that service, they were dubbed the “Iron Man Battalion.” Members head to Camp Shelby for final training before they head to active duty in Operation Iraqi Freedom several months from now.
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