FORT INDIANTOWN GAP (July 1) – Nearly 750 Pennsylvania National Guard soldiers from the 28th Infantry Division, comprised of seven different units from around the state will soon be leaving for Iraq, in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. Today, nearly all of the mobilized soldiers took part in a pass-in-review during an official send-off ceremony at the Pennsylvania National Guard Training Center.
While in the Middle East, the soldiers will perform patrol, convoy and other security operations and take with them 150-plus unit vehicles, including armored personnel carriers and high mobility, multi-purpose wheeled vehicles (HMMWVs).
“The First Lady and I wish a speedy and safe return for the soldiers of the Pennsylvania National Guard who have dedicated themselves to bringing democracy to the people of Iraq,” Governor Edward G. Rendell said. “We will continue to keep them in our thoughts and prayers as they work tirelessly to serve as beacons of hope while restoring order and preserving freedom.”
The mobilization will mark the first time a maneuver battalion from the Pennsylvania National Guard’s 28th Infantry Division will deploy into combat since World War II. The 1st Battalion, 103rd Armor, dubbed Task Force Dragoon, includes soldiers from Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 103rd Armor, in Johnstown; Company A, 1st Battalion, 111th Infantry, Philadelphia; Company A, 1st Battalion, 112th Infantry, located in Ford City; Company B, 1st Battalion, 103rd Armor, of Connellsville; Company C, 103rd Engineer Battalion, of Philadelphia; the 128th Forward Support Battalion, in Pittsburgh and 1st Battalion, 108th Field Artillery, of Carlisle.
“More and more of our citizen soldiers are responding to the call from our country because of the many, unique skills they bring with them, said Maj. Gen. Jessica Wright, the adjutant general of Pennsylvania. The Task Force heading to Iraq is just one more example of the tremendous experience level of the Pennsylvania National Guard.”
During the ceremony the adjutant general presented Pennsylvania state flags to each company commander of Task Force Dragoon. These flags will be flown in Iraq and will return with the soldiers when the mission is completed.
On July 2, the soldiers will travel to Fort Bliss, Texas, for additional training before heading to the Persian Gulf this fall. Task Force Dragoon will spend up to one year in Iraq.
Task Force Dragoon will join some 1,300 other Pennsylvania National Guard soldiers already in Iraq.