A welcome home ceremony is planned for this afternoon in Iowa City for 90 members of a returning Iowa National Guard unit. Guard spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Greg Hapgood says the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 109th Medical Battalion, has been stationed in Egypt along the border with Israel for a year.
Hapgood says, "They have worked as peacekeepers for the Multinational Force Observer mission and they have spent the past year doing a number of things, particularly, their specific mission had to do with commanding and controlling numerous other units that provide support for this mission." Those other units were involved in all sorts of duties, including: logistical, medical, aviation and explosive ordinance removal.
Hapgood says 90 Iowa soldiers left on the mission in February of last year and all 90 are coming home. Hapgood says: "The unit’s had a very smooth mobilization. They spent the past year on the Sinai Peninsula without any significant incidents, accidents or injuries. They have done a terrific job." The community homecoming ceremony will be held at 5 P.M. at the Iowa City West High School Auditorium.
Citizen-soldiers from several units across Iowa took part in the mission, including some from: Iowa City, Johnston, Washington and Centerville. While today marks a big homecoming for these troops, Hapgood reminds that many other Iowans are still on active duty.
He says there are about 500 Iowa National Guard soldiers and airmen on various assignments around the world, with the majority of them in Iraq, while about 20 are in Afghanistan. The Iowa City-based 109th Medical Battalion was also mobilized for about year of duty in Iraq between 2003-04.