Communities to give Miss.Guard units send-off bashes

Published 3:57 pm Friday, June 8, 2007

Deployment ceremonies are planned around the state in the coming weeks for three Mississippi Army National Guard units that will soon be headed to Iraq.

Houston and Chickasaw County are hosting a send-off Sunday at 12:30 p.m. on the courthouse grounds for about 100 soldiers of the 288th Sapper Co.

A ceremony for the Brandon-based 113th Military Police Company will be held at the Brandon Armory on June 9 at 10 a.m. The city also will honor the approximately 135 soldiers from the 113th with a family picnic at Shiloh Park on Saturday at 4 p.m.

The 113th will head to Camp Shelby, a sprawling base near Hattiesburg, for training next week, said Tim Powell, a Guard spokesman.

About 150 soldiers in the 1387th Quartermaster Company will be honored Wednesday at the Greenville Civic Center at 9 a.m.

The 1387th will also train at Camp Shelby, a 136,000-acre facility that has been the training site for more than 40,000 soldiers from around the country since it was federally mobilized in 2004.

The Sapper Company will fly Sunday after its send off from Tupelo to Fort McCoy in Wisconsin for several weeks, then on to Iraq, said Guard officials. The unit, formerly the 150th Engineer Battalion, returned home from an 18-month deployment in December 2005.

Capt. Thomas Howell, the unit commander, said the previous experience will be an advantage for the soldiers.

“Most of these guys know what to expect,” said Howell, who was not commander during the unit’s first deployment.

“They know what’s going to happen and what to do to get ready to move out. The moving process is going a lot smoother this time around. Now all everyone has to do is get their homes in order before they leave.”

Howell said second deployment also could be easier for the families.

“Anytime you leave your family for any length of time, it’s not easy,” Howell said in a www.djournal.com article. “But now they know what they have to do and who in the community they can turn to for help, so it’s easier on them, too.”

The 288th specializes “in building construction and maintenance, and clears routes for convoys and security patrols,” said Powell. “They are expected to remain on active duty for one year.”