147th departs Saturday

147th departs Saturday South Dakota Army National Guard soldiers from Battery C, 147th Field Artillery Battalion will depart for Fort Dix, NJ at 10 a.m. Saturday, July16, from the Sioux Falls Regional Airport as they deploy in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Since its mobilization alert on April 18, the Yankton unit along with additional members from other 1st Battalion units located in Sioux Falls, Salem and Mitchell, have been preparing personnel and equipment for its mission in Iraq.

Charlie Battery includes several young people from Vermillion and the surrounding area.

Twenty-three members from the unit have been at Fort Dix for several weeks preparing for the units arrival. While at Fort Dix, the 152 soldiers will receive training in conducting security operations along with additional training in first aid, weapons qualification and Improvised Explosive Device recognition.

The unit will spend one to two months training for its mission. No date has been set for when the unit will officially depart for Iraq.

This is the second call-up for the unit since hostilities erupted in Iraq. The entire 1st Battalion mobilized in March of 2003 and deployed to Fort Sill, OK. The unit trained with the MLRS (Multiple Launch Rocket System) battalion but returned home in May of 2003 when military officials decided there was not a need for more artillery units in Iraq.

Since the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, the South Dakota Army National Guard has mobilized 2,178 soldiers from 26 different units for Operation Iraqi Freedom. During the peak of deployments, South Dakota had more than 1,500 soldiers in Iraq at one time. Currently only 22 soldiers remain on duty in Iraq.

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