More isle troops
due back from Iraq
More than 200 isle soldiers are scheduled to return home this week after spending nearly a year in Iraq.
Tonight, 180 Hawaii Army National Guard helicopter aviators and their air crews are returning. They are members of Charlie Company, 193rd Aviation, deployed to the Baghdad area with 13 CH-47 Chinook helicopters last March and assigned to the 1st Infantry Division. Last April, five crew members escaped injury when their CH-47 Chinook helicopter crashed during a sand storm.
On Friday, the advance party of 33 Army Reserve soldiers belonging to 411th Combat Engineer Battalion, commanded by Lt. Col. Jonathan Wung, are expected back at Fort Shafter Flats. The rest of the unit should be arriving beginning March 23.
Earlier this week, nearly 1,000 Kaneohe Marines assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit boarded vessels belonging to the USS Essex Amphibious Ready Group and left Kuwait for Okinawa. The trip is expected to take four weeks.
Marine Corps officials have said the layover in Okinawa may take several weeks before the members of the 1st Battalion, 3rd Marine Regiment, return to Kaneohe Bay.
The 31st MEU lost 50 Marines and sailors during operations in Iraq and 221 were wounded. So far, 21 Purple Hearts have been awarded, according to a Kaneohe spokesman. Of the 50 Marines and sailors the 31st MEU killed in Iraq, 43 Marines were from Kaneohe. Two Navy corpsmen assigned to the 1st Battalion and stationed in Hawaii died in Iraq.