Local Guard Unit Heading to Iraq
Soldiers from the Southern Pines unit are among 4,000 members of the North Carolina Army National Guard's 30th Heavy Brigade Combat Team (HBCT) leaving for Iraq over the next few days.
Their departure from Fort Bragg is expected to be completed Wednesday.
On Tuesday, N.C. Gov. Beverly Perdue; West Virginia Gov. Joe Manchin; Pete Geren, secretary of the Army; Gen. George W. Casey Jr., chief of staff for the U.S. Army; and Gen. Craig McKinley, chief of the National Guard Bureau, were among the distinguished guests who addressed guard soldiers and families during the unit's deployment ceremony at Crown Center in Fayetteville.
"Our grateful nation owes you a debt we can never repay," Geren said.
A huge turnout of families, friends and well-wishers crowded into the Crown -- so many that some family members and other well-wishers could not be accommodated after the arena filled to capacity. At least 1,000 had to watch the ceremony on big screens in an adjoining building.
The 30th HBCT, the N.C. National Guard's largest unit, had just returned from intensive final training at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif. The deployment is expected to last 12 months.
"Their validation is complete, and they will be departing for Iraq in the days following this ceremony," the Army said. "This mobilization marks the second time the soldiers of the 30th were called up to support Operation Iraqi Freedom. In 2004, the 30th was the first National Guard Brigade Combat Team to be activated, deployed and control their own area of operations."
The 30th is headquartered in Clinton, with armories located across the state in communities from Wilmington to Charlotte, including the one in Southern Pines. The brigade also includes a battalion from the West Virginia Army National Guard and a company from the Colorado Army National Guard.
Maj. Gen. William E. Ingram Jr., adjutant general of the North Carolina National Guard, Maj. Gen. Allen E. Tackett, adjutant general of the West Virginia National Guard, and Maj. Gen. H. Michael Edwards, adjutant general of Colorado, joined in the large-scale send-off at the Crown.
A mobilization ceremony for Company C, 1-252 Combat Arms Battalion, took place Dec. 2 in the National Guard Armory in Southern Pines. After training, soldiers were able to return home for holidays with their families before heading to Texas, and then to California for further training. It was one of 26 such local ceremonies held for brigade units stationed across North Carolina.
The 30th HBCT returned home from its first deployment in January and February 2005. During its mission in eastern Diyala and Salah Al-Din Provinces, soldiers built schools, trained the Iraqi Security Forces, established Joint Command Centers with Iraqi Security Forces and patrolled the Iranian border with Iraqi Border Patrol. They engaged in numerous combat operations. Five members were five killed in action and about 125 were wounded in action, most of those returned to duty.
One of the soldiers killed was Sgt. Michael S. Voss, of Carthage. Voss died when an explosive device detonated near a vehicle in which he was a passenger, outside Kirkuk.
The 35-year-old Voss was a squad leader assigned to Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 120th Infantry, headquartered in Wilmington.
Contact John Chappell at 783-5841 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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