‘Warriors’ ready for deployment to Iraq
As the last movement of Schofield Barracks soldiers returns to families and friends this week from Iraq, another brigade of troops prepares to begin its 15 months in the combat zone.
Nearly 4,000 soldiers from the 2nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, nicknamed the "Warriors," were to hold their farewell ceremony this afternoon to prepare for their second combat tour with their new 18-ton, eight-wheeled vehicles.
The soldiers of the Warrior Brigade are expected to take their last two weeks of leave beginning the first week of November, and the movement of the entire brigade to Iraq will start in December.
"We've just completed the Army's finest training with the Army's best equipment, highlighted by its namesake, Stryker combat vehicles," said Col. Todd McCaffrey, brigade commander, in a written statement. "The nearly 4,000 soldiers, leaders and families of this brigade are prepared to answer this unit's second call to duty in the last three years, and they will once again represent Hawaii, the Army and our nation with pride, honor and determination."
Thirteen 25th Division soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team were killed during the unit's first Iraqi deployment, which began in January 2004.
During the past month, more than 7,000 soldiers assigned to the 3rd Brigade Combat Team and the headquarters elements of the 25th Infantry Division, led by Maj. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, have been flowing back to the Wahiawa Army post.
Mixon was among the last soldiers to bring the 3rd Brigade's campaign flag back to Schofield Barracks. After several delays, Mixon's flight was supposed to land this morning.
While in Iraq the 3rd Bronco Brigade was responsible for the Kirkuk province for nearly 15 months. That mission was transferred to the 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division. There were 3,400 Schofield Barracks assigned to the Bronco brigade and another 3,900 soldiers with the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade.
The 25th Division Bronco soldiers participated in more than 1,000 combat operations with Iraqi security forces; completed 127 civic improvement projects; found and destroyed more than 12,000 kilograms of explosives; and conducted more than 625 route-clearance missions, eliminating countless improvised explosive devices, according to a Hawaii Army Weekly story.
Col. Patrick T. Stackpole, 3rd Brigade commander, said his soldiers secured and opened every commissioned oil pipeline in the province, allowing for the export of more oil during the brigade's tour of duty than in the previous four years.
Stackpole's unit arrived in Iraq in August 2006 in what was supposed to be a 12-month tour, but as part of the Pentagon's "surge" strategy, the mission was extended by several months.
Thirty-six soldiers serving with the 3rd Brigade and other Schofield Barracks units died during the nearly 15-month deployment.