Five cities hosted send-off ceremonies today for nearly 600 of the 2,800 Iowa National Guard soldiers being sent to Afghanistan as part of the largest deployment of Iowa troops since World War Two. One ceremony was held inside the UNI-Dome in Cedar Falls.
The commander of the Iowa Guard, Brigadier General Timothy Orr, spoke to the soldiers and the families of the Waterloo-based First Battalion, 133-rd Infantry. The group is known as the “Ironman Battalion” for its previous record setting deployments.
“This is a great day, not only is it a great day for the cities of Cedar Falls and Waterloo, but it’s a great day for Iowa and for this nation,” Orr said, “because there’s not other battalion that stands before us today that’s mission focused and mission ready than the iron men that stand in front of you today.” Orr made a promise to the families of the soldiers.
Orr says he realizes deployments are difficult and tough on soldiers, but more important “extremely difficult” on families. “And so those of us that are left behind have a responsibility. And so my focus and my mission to the soldiers that stand here today, you focus on your mission, and we will focus on taking care of your families,” Orr said.
The general wrapped up his remarks by presenting the commander of the unit with a state flag. “And I ask that you fly it high, fly it proud, and know that every day when these soldiers get up in the morning and you look at that American flag and see the Iowa flag flying right underneath, that you will see with pride that you are supported not only by a nation, but by a state that cares about each and every one of you.”
Other send-off ceremonies for the members of battalion were also held today in Dubuque, Iowa City, Iowa Falls, and Oelwein.
You can listen to Orr’s entire remarks here: General Orr 3:19 MP3
By Elwin Huffman, KOEL, Oelwein