STAR-BULLETIN / APRIL 2005
The Hawaii Army National Guard hopes to have members of the 29th Brigade Combat Team back to their civilian lives by mid-February. Sgt. John Perry was greeted by his sister, Cherylann Perry, after arriving for two weeks' leave from the Middle East in April. She was going through chemotherapy for cancer at the time and now anxiously awaits the end of his deployment.
100th reservists due home soon
Family members plan post-holiday reunions as the battalion gets orders to leave Iraq
Hawaii Army National Guard officials hope to have the 1,800 members of the 29th Brigade Combat Team back into their routines as civilians by mid-February.
Maj. Chuck Anthony, Hawaii National Guard spokesman, said yesterday that the nearly 700 members of the Army Reserve's 100 Battalion, 442nd Infantry, will be among the first to return. The unit -- one of three battalions assigned to 29th Brigade -- should be home from Iraq by the first or second week in January.
The rest of the brigade will be back by the end of January. Anthony said it will take about two weeks for the soldiers to go through the demobilization process.
The brigade, commanded by Brig. Gen. Joseph Chaves, also has another 1,100 soldiers from California, Oregon, Washington and Minnesota. Those soldiers will be taken to Fort Bliss in Texas and released from there.
Cherylann Perry said she is anxious to see her brother, Sgt. John Perry III, who is assigned to the 29th Brigade's 29th Support Battalion and has been stationed at Logistical Support Area Anaconda, 50 miles north of Balad.
"When my brother left last year," Perry said, "I was going through chemotherapy. At that time we made a promise to be strong for each other because of the battles that we would be facing.
"Now we are making it to the finish line. The way I feel is that I am so thankful," she said.
Anthony said homecoming ceremonies for all of the 29th Brigade soldiers will be held at the unit's headquarters in Kalaeloa. "It is the commander's intent to demobilize the soldiers as quickly as possible. That might take as much as couple of weeks," he said.
The last 40 members of the 1st Battalion, 487th Field Artillery, who were stationed in Kuwait will probably be home this weekend, Anthony said.
In its first combat assignment since the Vietnam War, the 29th Brigade Combat Team was called to active duty in August 2004 and entered Iraq in February.
Once the citizen soldiers are home, the state plans to honor each of its units with individual ceremonies. "You are going to see a lot of those every weekend beginning in March," Anthony said.