Alaska National Guard troops headed home

Posted: Sunday, October 07, 2007

FAIRBANKS - The largest call-up of Alaska National Guardsmen since World War II is nearing an end with soldiers from more than 80 communities headed home.

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As many as 575 soldiers of the 3rd Battalion, 297th Infantry are coming home after a year of pulling security in Kuwait and Iraq, military officials announced Friday. An advance wave of about 70 soldiers arrived at Camp Shelby in Mississippi on Wednesday. The rest of the troops are expected to arrive next week. Their travel plans to Alaska are pending.

The soldiers spent their deployment in northern Kuwait scattered among three camps: Camp Buehring, Camp Virginia and Camp Navistar. They guarded the camps and conveys traveling into Iraq.

"They were an integral part of securing coalition forces and U.S. soldiers in that area," said guard spokeswoman Kalei Brooks. "We are really looking forward to getting our guardsmen home safely and back in Alaska, so they can be with their friends and family."

Brooks said no member of the unit was killed overseas. She did not know if anyone was injured. Last year, two soldiers were killed and two were hurt in an accident at Camp Shelby, the training camp where the unit prepared for its duties before traveling to the Middle East.

The soldiers are returning to the United States in stages, stopping first at Camp Shelby.

A welcome home ceremony in Mississippi is scheduled for Oct. 17.

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