An Iowa National Guard homecoming ceremony Thursday will mark the return of 17 soldiers from Iraq, and guard spokesman Colonel Greg Hapgood says it leaves that country without any Iowa Guard boots on the ground. Hapgood says this is the last Iowa unit in Iraq right now, although they do anticipate sending some soldiers to Iraq later this year. Iowa had a peak of some 3,300 soldiers in Iraq in 2004.
The unit that is returning home has been in Iraq for one year. Hapgood says the 135th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment is a unit that creates print and electronic media products, and provides media training for leaders, soldiers and others, as well as community events. He says the lack of Iowa Guard soldiers in Iraq is part of the administration’s strategy to refocus operations.
Hapgood says the U.S. forces have drawn down to about 55,000 in Iraq as most U.S. operations have dropped down quite a bit there in the last year. The homecoming ceremony is planned for 11 A.M. at the Joint Forces Headquarters at Camp Dodge in Johnston. The public is welcome to attend.