Events are planned at the end of the week in four cities to welcome back Iowa National Guard soldiers from their overseas deployment.
Guard spokesman, Lieutenant Colonel Michael Wunn says about 350 members of the 248th Aviation Support Battalion will be recognized. He says they have been gone for one year. “The 248th is comprised of aircraft maintainers, test pilots and logistical support personnel. They were part of a larger unit that was in the Central Command Theatre of Operations,” Wunn says.
The Central Command is comprised of 20 nations in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia, including Afghanistan, Iraq, and other countries.
Wunn says the Iowa National Guard has been called on many times in the last decade or more. “Since 9-11 we’ve had almost 19,000 Iowa National Guard soldiers and airmen who have deployed in support of overseas contingency operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places,” according to Wunn. “So, the Iowa National Guard has been very busy supporting those types of operations. And of course we’ve been supporting things here at home as well.”
The return cuts the number of Iowa guard soldiers who are deployed by more than half. “This is actually our largest single unit deployment since 2010 and 2011,” Wunn says, “so right now with these soldiers returning we have probably about 200 soldiers with the Iowa Army National Guard who are still deployed.” Wunn says the ceremonies are open to the public.
“The homecoming ceremonies are some of the funnest things that we get to do in the Iowa National Guard. When we get to reunite our soldiers with their families, it’s really a special day. It’s an opportunity to say thank you and to honor their service,” Wunn says.
All events are happening Friday. The soldiers of the Headquarters Support Company and Detachment 4, Company B will be honored at a 1 p.m. ceremony in the Davenport Army Aviation Support Facility. Soldiers of Company A and Detachment 3, Company B will be honored at a 1 p.m. ceremony at the Waterloo Army Aviation Support Facility. Soldiers of Detachment 1, Company A will be honored at a 5 p.m. ceremony in the Iowa National Guard Readiness Center in Muscatine. And soldiers from Detachment 1, Headquarters Support Company and Company B will be honored at a 5 p.m. ceremony in the Boone High School gym.