400 isle soldiers get yule tidings
Nearly 400 Hawaii Army National Guard soldiers, who have been deployed to Kuwait since February, will be given an early Christmas gift and be home for the holidays.
However, Maj. Chuck Anthony, Hawaii National Guard spokesman, said that the majority of the 2,200 soldiers from the 29th Brigade Combat Team will remain in Iraq until February.
"We have always been working on a February time frame for the brigade," Anthony said, "As far as we know, it is still good."
Anthony said yesterday that the 1st Battalion, 487th Field Artillery, is able to return in early December -- the exact date has not been set -- because its assignment in Kuwait is different from what the majority of the 29th Brigade has to do in Balad and Baghdad.
Hawaii soldiers in Kuwait are used primarily as guards and do not leave their home bases, unlike members of the 29th Brigade, which has performed numerous patrols in and around Balad and Baghdad.
More orientation is needed for the unit that will replace those Hawaii soldiers, Anthony said.
The 1st Battalion, commanded by Lt. Col. Keith Tamashiro, has been providing security at Kuwait Naval Base on the Persian Gulf and is the "quick reaction force" at two other Army camps.
The Hawaii Army National Guard's 227th Combat Engineer Company also has two platoons that provide security at Debarkatio in Kuwait, and Anthony said that he believes these Hawaii soldiers also will be home for Christmas.
The 487th is expected to be replaced by the 1st Battalion of Wisconsin Army National Guard's 120th Field Artillery, whose units should be in Kuwait by November.
Last year, the 29th Brigade's 2,200 Hawaii soldiers got a two-week Christmas leave before leaving for Kuwait and Iraq after training on the mainland.