142nd packing its bags for trip home
A Fargo-based National Guard unit that has served a year in war-torn Iraq is preparing for its return to the United States. The 142nd Engineer Combat Battalion of the North Dakota National Guard has safely arrived at desert camps in Kuwait, await...
A Fargo-based National Guard unit that has served a year in war-torn Iraq is preparing for its return to the United States.
The 142nd Engineer Combat Battalion of the North Dakota National Guard has safely arrived at desert camps in Kuwait, awaiting air transportation to Fort Carson, Colo., said Sgt. First Class Rob Keller, a spokesman for the North Dakota Guard.
Most of the 142nd's 633 troops are expected to arrive at Fort Carson over the next two weeks, Keller said.
The soldiers should begin arriving home later this month, he said.
At Fort Carson, the troops will undergo a demobilization process for about six days before flying back to North Dakota and Minnesota on charter and commercial flights, he said.
About 15 National Guard members from North Dakota have arrived at the Colorado military base to help expedite the out-processing, said Jon Haugen, a North Dakota National Guard public information officer.
"We wanted support staff down there to speed up the process," Keller said. "We want to get them home into the arms of their families as soon as we can."
A "port team" of between 30 and 50 soldiers will lag behind the others in returning home. The team is charged with monitoring shipments of equipment and storage containers, Keller said.
Meanwhile, members of Valley City-based 141st Engineer Battalion have arrived in Kuwait, where they continue training for a one-year tour in Iraq.
About 130,000 U.S. troops, some bound for home, others preparing to take their place, will pass through Kuwaiti desert camps by late April, Keller said.
"It's a logistical marvel," he said.
The 142nd was called to serve in Operation Iraqi Freedom in January 2003.
The soldiers logged thousands of miles in convoy operations, helped recover Iraqi jets and went into the heart of Baghdad to repair schools, neighborhood parks and playgrounds.
While most members of the 142nd have arrived in Kuwait, a small contingent remains near Balad, Iraq, where they're helping newly arrived troops prepare for service, Keller said.
The 142nd has its headquarters in Fargo, but includes companies in Wahpeton, Oakes and Camp Ripley, Minn.
None of the 142nd's troops was killed or injured in combat, he said.
The 141st Engineer Battalion left for Kuwait Feb. 16 from Fort Carson.
The 141st includes units in Valley City, Bismarck, Dickinson, Hettinger, Jamestown, Mott and Williston.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Jeff Zent at (701) 241-5526