Local units make return to United States

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Four local military units are finally on their way back home to West Alabama after completing their duties in Iraqi. The 877th Engineering Battalion, the 287th Transportation Company, the 1166th Military Police and the 781st Transportation Company are all coming home after serving one-year stints in the Middle East.

The first flight with approximately 250 troops from the Alabama Army National Guard’s 877th Engineer Battalion from northwest Alabama arrived at Fort Benning on Tuesday. Military officials said the remainder of the 877th personnel would return to Fort Benning within the next seven days.

The battalion headquarters and service company is in Hamilton with companies or detachments in Sulligent, Guin, Winfield, Berry, Vernon, Millport, Fayette and Carbon Hill. The 877th was activated for service in Operation Iraqi Freedom in early March 2003.

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The units left their home armories in mid-March for an additional train-up period at Fort Benning, Ga., before deploying on to Iraq.

The unit provided engineer support to the U.S. Army’s elite 101st Airborne Division in northern Iraq. The 877th is a combat heavy battalion that has both horizontal and vertical construction capabilities.

The units are equipped with bulldozers, road scrapers, packers and other equipment to construct roads, airfields, landing zones and similar projects.

The unit can also do vertical construction projects and erect or renovate fixed buildings for all purposes.

While in Iraq, the battalion razed and leveled a number of palaces of the former regime and removed debris. They constructed permanent living quarters, mess halls and other facilities for allied forces in their area of operations as well as restoring water service in some areas.

The commander and other senior officers of the 101st Airborne Division for their performance of duty in northern Iraq praised the unit.

On Wednesday morning, March 31, the 781st Transportation Company from Fort Deposit, Georgiana and Daleville will at Lawson Army Air Field.

The 781st Welcome Home ceremony will be held at 8:00 a.m. at Santiago Gym on Sand Hill at Fort Benning on the 31st.

After the ceremonies, the returning Guard members will be given time to meet with family members and friends before beginning out-processing procedures for release from active duty.

It is anticipated that after arriving at Fort Benning, it will take five to seven days to complete these activities.

The 781st Transportation Company was called to active duty in early February 2003.

The 170-member unit is equipped with medium cargo trucks and flatbed trailers. Their mission was hauling logistical supplies and equipment to supported units.

The 287th Transportation Company is an Army Reserve unit from Livingston with a detachment in Anniston. They arrived at Fort Benning Tuesday around 11:30 p.m. with 215 soldiers. During their time in Iraqi, the 287th transported tanks and other heavy equipment to the different battlefields.

The 1166th Military Police unit, which is a part of the Army National Guard, is scheduled to fly into Fort Stewart, Georgia on Wednesday. The unit is stationed in Greensboro with a detachment in Thomasville and currently has 160 soldiers.

The 1166th served as a police unit in Iraqi with some of their duties including security and watching the prisoners of war.