Guard's 224th out of Iraq, starting long trip home
By WILLIAM PETROSKI
REGISTER STAFF WRITER
Copyright 2005, Des Moines Register and Tribune Co.
December 6, 2005
About 500 soldiers from the Iowa Army National Guard's 224th Engineer Battalion have arrived in Kuwait, completing a year-long tour of duty in Iraq, said Lt. Col. Gregory Hapgood, the Guard's public affairs officer.
The final group of soldiers from the unit arrived in Kuwait today. The battalion has its headquarters in Fairfield with companies in Burlington, Ottumwa and Mount Pleasant and a detachment in Keokuk.
The 224th is one of the largest units of Iowa Guard or Reserve soldiers that has served in Iraq.
The soldiers are expected to be flown from the Persian Gulf region to Fort Sill, Okla., later this week, depending upon the availability of aircraft flights, Hapgood said.
The troops will still need to undergo processing in Oklahoma to be released from active duty and will likely return to Iowa next week for homecoming ceremonies, he said.
Four soldiers from the 224th were killed in action and others were seriously wounded as the battalion performed route-clearing missions and convoy escort duties in the Sunni Triangle, one of the most dangerous areas of Iraq.
Welcome home! good to have all of them coming home.
That's the sad part, not quite all of them have come home safely, I came across another article that said that.They are planning a big welcome home at least.
224th battalion returns to states
By the Daily Gate City
Friday, December 9, 2005 4:30 PM CST
More than 470 members of the 224th Engineer Battalion arrived safely Thursday at Fort Sill, Okla., ending an 11-month tour of duty in Iraq.
The battalion has headquarters in Fairfield, companies in Burlington, Mount Pleasant and Ottumwa, and a detachment in Keokuk.
The soldiers will stay at Fort Sill for about a week before returning to their respective towns, according to Lt. Col. Gregory Hapgood, public affairs officer for the Iowa Army National Guard in Camp Dodge.
The outprocessing procedures will include full medical examinations and “making sure their service is well documented so they get every award and service they are entitled to,” Hapgood said.
Five welcome home ceremonies will be held when the battalion returns by bus to Southeast Iowa. No specific date for Keokuk's ceremony had been set as of press time today. However, Keokuk Mayor David Gudgel said Thursday the latest date for the ceremony is Friday, Dec. 16, or Saturday, Dec. 17. The ceremony will be held at Wright Fieldhouse at Keokuk High School.
“It's tough to tell,” Hapgood said when asked when the battalion will return to Southeast Iowa. “We may have a (press) release out later today to tell when they should return home.”
The 224th Engineer Battalion was called to active duty in October 2004 and deployed to Iraq in January.
During their stay in Iraq, the battalion cleared 6,000 miles of roadway around the city of Ramadi, found 300 improvised explosive devices, provided security for 500 convoys and destroyed 70 tons of enemy weapons.
Four soldiers from the unit were killed in Iraq. Thirty others were wounded, according to Hapgood.
The Daily Gate City plans to publish a special section on the Keokuk detachment's return shortly afterwards.
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