NEWS

Guard units soon heading to Afghanistan

Doug Boock

Members of the Galva and Kewanee National Guard units will likely soon begin a one-year to deployment to Afghanistan.

Some members of the Kewanee unit will leave for training on Aug. 2, according to published reports. Others will soon follow.

“Kewanee is right now targeting the middle of August,” Illinois National Guard public affairs specialist Mike Chrisman said in Springfield on July 28. “(That) is subject to change, but right now, it’s looking like the middle of August.”

The Galva unit’s mobilization date is a bit sketchy, but could also be mid-August, Chrisman said.

“We’re still looking at probably an early fall time frame before (both units) would actually be deployed to Afghanistan,” he said.

Both units are part of the Illinois Army National Guard’s 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team. Their mission in Afghanistan will be to train and mentor the Afghan National Army and Afghan National Police.

Chrisman said the units are scheduled to serve “a roughly 12-month” deployment ? about two months of training in the U.S. and about 10 months in Afghanistan. 

“A lot of these soldiers have known for several months they were going to be mobilize, but an exact date had not been put out,” Chrisman said. “(The Guard) tries to give soldiers roughly a year warning so they can get finances (and other things) in order.”

It’s not clear how many current or former residents of the Galva, AlWood and ROWVA school districts are members of the Galva or Kewanee units. 

There are about 100 members in the Galva unit, said Chrisman, adding that he’s unsure whether all will be deployed.

For some Guardsmen, it will be their second deployment to the war in the Middle East. The Galva unit and about 20 Kewanee unit members combined to form a 120-man unit that served 12 months in Iraq, returning home in March 2005 to a rousing hero’s welcome.