Nearly 400 Mspi Guard members going to Iraq

Published 3:31 pm Friday, June 1, 2007

Nearly 400 members of the Mississippi Army National Guard are headed to Iraq this summer.

The adjutant general for the state Guard made the announcement in a news release Thursday afternoon.

Maj. Gen. Harold A. Cross said three units have been called to duty — the 288th Sapper Company based in Houston, the 1387th Quartermaster Company based in Greenville and Brandon’s 113th Military Police Company.

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It will be the second deployment overseas for the 113th, which served in Afghanistan, Pakistan and Uzbekistan in 2003.

“We are again proud of our Mississippi sons and daughters of the Mississippi National Guard who faithfully serve to protect our freedoms and defend our nation,” said Gov. Haley Barbour, who serves as commander in chief for the state’s Guard units, in the release.

The news release said approximately 97 soldiers from the 288th, 150 from the 1387th and 135 from the 113th will be sent for training at Camp Shelby south of Hattiesburg in mid-June. After training, they will be sent to Iraq.

Departure ceremonies are scheduled for each.

Cross put about 850 members of the Guard on alert earlier this year. The current mobilization will bring the number of Mississippi residents serving in Iraq and Afghanistan to more than 600, the news release said.

There are already 240 Mississippi Guard soldiers and airmen in Iraq, Afghanistan and Kuwait. Some of those soldiers will be coming home before the others would deploy, Cross said recently.

Nearly 90 percent of Mississippi’s Guard forces — or 8,000 soldiers — have served in some active capacity since the 2001 terrorist attacks on the Pentagon and World Trade Center. That’s similar to other states, as the Pentagon has depended heavily on citizen soldiers to fight the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Cross has said.