The governor of Minnesota on Tuesday announced the return of thousands of soldiers with a National Guard brigade that includes several hundred Iowans.
Families of the 700 troops with the Waterloo-based 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry have actually known for months about their return. However, Iowa National Guard Lieutenant Colonel Greg Hapgood says the announcement is reassuring. "I think what you can take away from this announcement is that the return process is moving ahead and everything is on schedule," Hapgood says.
The Iowa troops are expected back in the state by late July or early August. The unit’s struggles were recently documented by 60 Minutes. The soldiers were scheduled to return home in March or April, but had their duty extended by President Bush.
"When you look at the fact that this unit has spent nearly two years on active duty, the danger of their mission, and what their families have endured – I think you’ll see a tremendous amount of gratitude and joy when these soldiers come home," Hapgood says.
Two Iowa soldiers from the unit were killed last September 30th.