Duty calls for local National Guard members by David Lias Local members of a South Dakota National Guard unit took the first steps this week in what could be a journey that will eventually take them far from home.
Members of the National Guard 147th Field Artillery Unit, Charlie Battery began reporting to Sioux Falls Wednesday to train for their pending deployment. No official ceremony was held in Yankton.
Unit members are expected to be home on weekends while training in Sioux Falls. The unit will debark from Sioux Falls when it ships out sometime in July.
Members of the 147th � including Battery C of Yankton � learned in mid-April that they would again be placed on alert for possible action in Iraq.
Sgt. Mat Obproek, a rear detachment personnel member who handles many of the family support issues in the 147th�s Yankton office, could not release names of Guard members from Vermillion or the surrounding area who have reported to Sioux Falls.
�We can mention that there are young people from the Vermillion area that are part of this unit, but we aren�t able to release names,� he said. �I know there are quite a few soldiers that live in the Vermillion area, but I don�t have any exact numberswith me.�
An activation ceremony for the 147th was held in Yankton in May. The unit was put on state orders June 29.
�They will be training in Sioux Falls until they receive their active duty orders. Then they will leave for their mobilization station,� Opbroek said.
The unit hasn�t been told when its training will shift from Sioux Falls to a mobilization station.
�The soldier readiness program is a process that a soldier goes through to prepare to be mobilized,� Opbroek said. �That program involves getting all the information, and the unit members will be doing that a mobilization station. We haven�t been given any dates on when they will be going to the mobilization station.�
Opbroek said he will remain behind in Yankton.
�My duty station will be here, and I will take care of some adminstrative issues, take care of the facilities, and help with the family support and play an integral part in the family support group.�
The mission for the 152 SDNG soldiers includes conducting security operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom III.
Charlie Battery will provide about half of the needed strength for the mission and will be joined with others from 1st Battalion units in Salem, Mitchell and Sioux Falls.
This is the second call-up for the unit since the start of hostilities in Iraq. The 1st Battalion mobilized in March 2003 and deployed to Fort Sill, OK. The unit trained with the Multiple Launch Rocket System (MLRS) battalion but returned home in May 2003 when military officials decided there was not a need for more artillery in Iraq.