More Iowa National Guard members are heading to the Gulf Coast to help in the recovery efforts from Hurricane Gustav.
After some 250 Iowa citizen-soldiers were dispatched south over the weekend, Guard spokesman
Lieutenant Colonel Greg Hapgood says another 220 are now on duty in the New Orleans area, taking the total to around 470 Iowans in uniform who are now in Louisiana.
Hapgood says: "We’ve got really a large variety of assets, whether we’re talking about combat engineers with heavy equipment, helicopters, fixed-wing aircraft, logistical support units. There’s a number of different units that are down there, providing support."
One of the larger units is the 2168th Transportation Company, based in Sheldon, with subordinate units in Sioux City and Fort Dodge. Hapgood says that company of 180 soldiers took 40 trucks to Alexandria, Louisiana. "They’re providing transportation support to not only the military efforts, but also to any of the other federal, state or local agencies that are providing support," Hapgood says.
The company’s flatbed trucks are moving all sorts of equipment and pallets loaded with relief supplies. He says the Iowa Guard wrapped up its duties with Iowa flood relief assignments several weeks ago.
Hapgood says, "All of the Iowa National Guard soldiers and airmen that were previously engaged in flood relief and tornado relief in Iowa have completed their duties, so we’re not pulling anybody away from something else they were doing here."
Other Iowa Guard units that have been deployed to Louisiana are from cities including Davenport and Johnston. Hapgood says to call this an "interesting" year for the National Guard would be an understatement.
"Whether you’re talking about severe winter weather, floods, tornadoes, hurricanes or combat duty overseas or peace-keeping duty overseas," Hapgood says, "they really have had a significant year and are extremely proud to be part of Iowa and to help people around the world."
(photo courtesy of the Iowa National Guard)