Public ceremonies are planned Wednesday in Sioux City, Denison and Johnston to welcome back 240 soldiers that are returning from active duty in Iraq. Lieutenant Colonel Greg Hapgood is the Iowa National Guard’s public affairs officer.
"We haven’t had a homecoming event this large since last summer when approximately 600 soldiers returned from the 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry. So, we’re talking a day of supreme celebration in Iowa come Wednesday," Hapgood said. The two units that are returning home were mobilized in May 2007 and left the state last June.
Hapgood says the soldiers are from Company D, 1st Battalion, 168th Infantry based in Denison and Troop A, 1st Squadron, 113th Cavalry based at Camp Dodge in Johnston. Both units performed security missions in the Baghdad area of Iraq.
Hapgood says their specific duties involved escorting distinguished visitors and others in the Iraqi theatre of operation. The homecoming ceremony for the 120 soldiers with Company D will take place at 11 a.m. Wednesday at the Crawford County Fairgrounds Speedway in Denison.
The homecoming ceremonies for the soldiers with Troop A will take place at two locations; the Camp Dodge Parade Grounds in Johnston at 11 a.m. and the Sioux City Armory at 2 p.m. Hapgood says the Iowa Army and Air National Guard now has roughly 900 soldiers serving in Iraq, Afghanistan, Kosovo and near the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt.