128 reservists pull duty in Iraq
657th Area Support Command soldiers will help maintain a base camp north of Balad
Another Pacific Army Reserve unit will be mobilized for duty in Iraq, meaning that nearly all of its 3,500 soldiers have been activated for Middle East service.
Some 128 reservists belonging to 657th Area Support Command will be leaving shortly for Logistical Support Anaconda, 50 miles north of Balad.
"In some cases there are soldiers who have been on active duty more than once," said Lt. Col. Howard Sugai, spokesman for the Army Reserve's 9th Regional Readiness Command at Fort Shafter.
While one unit prepares to deploy to Iraq, another returns home after a year's worth of combat duty there this week.
Returning home tomorrow in time for Mother's Day will be the 150 soldiers assigned to 322nd Civil Affairs Brigade.
Sugai said the 657th Area Support Command soldiers will be responsible for the daily maintenance of the base camp, which is the largest military operation in Iraq.
First Sgt. Joe Burnett, 40, said that means helping the nearly 35,000 military and civilian personnel who live at the base.
Burnett, who has been an Army reservist for 18 years, said he had expected to have been mobilized much earlier.
"You can't hide from it; you're going to do at least one rotation," said Burnett, who works for an island mortgage company. Burnett graduated from Leilehua High School in 1983, and his wife also was in the Army Reserve.
Still on active duty are Pacific Army reservists assigned to 1101st Garrison Support Unit, which was placed on active duty two years ago and assigned to Schofield Barracks when the 25th Infantry Division sent a brigade to Iraq and another to Afghanistan.
The first Army Reserve unit to switch their civilian clothes for desert camouflage fatigues were 60 soldiers of the 411th Engineer Combat Engineer Battalion, headed by Lt. Col. Jonathan Wung. They mobilized in 2004.
They were followed by soldiers from 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry, which went to Iraq as part of the Hawaii Army National Guard's 29th Brigade Combat Team. Also activated were the 804th Signal Company and the 368th Military Police Company.
All units except for the 368th are stationed at Fort Shafter.
Hawaii Army reservists belonging to the 322nd Civil Affairs Brigade were assigned to Baghdad. The Hawaii unit was augmented by three battalions from mainland states. All of the brigade's casualties have been members of their affiliated battalions, and none from the islands.
This was the first time the brigade had been mobilized as an unit. However, individual soldiers from the brigade participated in the 1991 Gulf War and were deployed to Bosnia, Bangladesh and East Timor in 1998.