Welcome-home ceremony slated for Stryker soldiers

Memorial wall to be dedicated to 26 fallen members of brigade

Posted: Tuesday, November 28, 2006

FAIRBANKS - The Army in Alaska is planning an official welcome home for members of the 172nd Stryker Brigade Combat Team after their extended tour in Iraq, an Army official said Monday.

The redeployment ceremony is scheduled for Dec. 12 and will be held at the Carlson Center in Fairbanks. A memorial wall dedication also will be held the same day at Fort Wainwright near Fairbanks to honor the 26 Stryker Brigade soldiers who died while in Iraq,

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said Army spokesman Major Kirk Gohlke.

The Stryker Brigade soldiers spent 16 months in Iraq.

The first soldiers with the 172nd Stryker Brigade began returning last week to Alaska from Iraq. On Saturday, friends and family gathered at Fort Wainwright to welcome about 625 members of the brigade. Another 200 soldiers with the 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment of the brigade arrived at Fort Richardson near Anchorage.

Army officials have said the Stryker Brigade soldiers will be arriving each day until Dec. 5. Most of some 3,800 soldiers will be returning to Fort Wainwright, where the brigade is stationed.

The soldiers served their first year in northern Iraq, based out of Mosul, in what was the largest combat deployment of Alaska-based troops since the Vietnam War. The 172nd worked with Iraqi army and police forces, training them and conducting searches and patrols.

The Stryker soldiers were expected to return to Alaska last summer. Some members began returning in July but then the brigade's tour was extended another four months to help quell violence in Baghdad. About 300 soldiers had already returned from Iraq and were sent back after the extension.

Seven brigade soldiers died during the extension, following the deaths of 19 brigade soldiers during the original deployment.

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