Michigan Army National Guard unit's deployment to Iraq honored on Saturday Soldiers, families, and employers thanked for support of OIF; tribute to four Fallen Heroes
November 1, 2007
LANSING, MICH - Nov. 1, 2007- Approximately 148 Soldiers from Company E, 1st Battalion, 125th Infantry Regiment, Michigan Army National Guard, Big Rapids, will be honored Saturday at 4:30 p.m. for their 15-month deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
The Soldiers mobilized to Fort Dix, N.J., in May 2006 for in-processing and mission specific training and then deployed to Iraq in August. Once in country, their mission was to train Iraqi security forces to conduct independent operations. Company E performed patrols and missions with the Iraqi police and conducted numerous operations to clear the area of enemy forces in the al-Madain district of Baghdad and surrounding areas. The Soldiers returned home in August 2007 to a cheering community, but without four of their comrades.
In November 2006, Spc. Bradley Shilling, 22, of Stanwood, Mich., was killed from an improvised explosive device. In December, Spc. Wilson Algrim, 21, Howell, Spc. Bobby Mejia II, 20, Saginaw, and Sgt. Chad Vollmer, 24, Grand Rapids, were killed when their vehicle was impacted by an improvised explosive device. The 125th Infantry Battalion has endured the most fatalities of any Michigan National Guard unit while supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom. Six Soldiers from the Saginaw, Mich., based Company B, 125th Infantry Regiment were killed in Iraq during their deployment from February 2005 to July 2006.
During the "Freedom Salute Campaign" each Soldier will receive an encased American flag, lapel insignia, commemorative coin, and a certificate of appreciation. For 38 of the Soldiers, this was their second OIF deployment and they will receive a Freedom ring. Their spouse or parent will receive a clock in recognition of their service. The remaining spouses will receive a commemorative lapel pin. Employers and other "centers of influence" will receive a medallion.
Today, approximately 700 Michigan National Guard Soldiers and Airmen remain deployed across the globe at locations such as Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan, Kosovo, and the Arizona, New Mexico and Texas borders. Since Sept. 11, 2001, approximately 85 percent of the Michigan Guard has deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom; however, as Michigan troops serve the nation, more than 80 percent of the Michigan Guard are prepared to respond to a state emergency including a terrorist event.
Media is invited to attend the Freedom Salute ceremony, 4:30 p.m., Saturday at the Big Rapids Armory, located at 15900 190th Ave, Big Rapids, 49307 (M-20 East, turn east on Chippewa Lake Rd., armory on south side. )
(For more information, contact Master Sgt. Denice Rankin, 517-481-8136, or 517-896-0859)