More Army Guard troops
headed for overseas duty

Another 120 Hawaii Army National Guard soldiers, including military journalists, personnel specialists and engineers, have been alerted to be prepared for duty in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Of that group, only the journalists, photographers and videographers from the 117th Public Affairs Detachment, have been called to active duty recently. Eight years ago, the 117th was placed on active duty and served from June 1996 to January 1997 in Bosnia.

Brig. Gen. Vern Miyagi, commander of the Hawaii Army National Guard, yesterday said several units of the guard's 103rd Troop Command are also getting the call.

Besides the 117th, two other 103rd Troop Command units -- the 298th Engineer Detachment and the 12th Personnel Services Detachment -- have been alerted, he said.

The 103rd is one of two major commands of the Hawaii Army National Guard, providing all of its support service. The 29th Infantry Brigade is the other major element of the Hawaii Guard.

Yesterday, 56 members of Bravo Company, 193rd Aviation, were released from active duty after spending nine months at Kandahar, Afghanistan, servicing helicopters assigned to the 10th Mountain Division.

They were replaced by another 60 aviators and helicopter mechanics from Bravo Company, who left Wheeler Army Air Field for Kandahar on May 5.

The 193rd also has sent 200 soldiers of Charlie Company to Balad in Iraq to support the 1st Cavalry Division for up to a year. Those soldiers left Hawaii April 14.

Immediately after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, 20 Hawaii Army National Guard soldiers were activated and spent a year at Schofield Barracks.

In the Pacific Army Reserve, half of the 600 soldiers deployed to Iraq in March with the 411th Engineer Combat Battalion are from Hawaii. They will be in Baghdad for a year, working for the 1st Cavalry Division. The unit also has 100 reservists from different parts of the western United States, 40 from American Samoa, and 150 from Alaska and Guam.

Col. Jim Boersema, an Army reservist who commands the 1101st Garrison Support Unit, said there are another five units at Schofield that have completed the training necessary to send them to Iraq.

Yesterday, many members of Bravo Company said their nine-month tour in Afghanistan will not deter them from staying in the Army Guard.

Sgt. Cesar Ramirez, 24, an avionics communication section supervisor, said he plans to re-enlist in the 193rd after completing his first six-year commitment.

One of the highlights of his nine months in Afghanistan, Ramirez said, was coordinating the school supplies and other items that were sent to Kandahar for distribution to Afghan children.

"I inherited the project from soldiers who were there before me, and I turned it over to other members of our unit who replaced us," he said. "At one point, a man in New York sent over 10 to 15 boxes of small stuffed dolls."


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