12/22/04 — N.C. Guard soldiers to return

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N.C. Guard soldiers to return

By Staff and Wire
Published in News on December 22, 2004 2:07 PM

Around 250 National Guard soldiers based in Goldsboro will be returning home from Iraq soon, although the exact day is unknown.

The 230th Support Battalion is part of the 30th Heavy Separate Brigade, which sent nearly 5,000 soldiers to Iraq in February and March. About 3,400 brigade members from North Carolina and hundreds more from eight other states will come back from their deployment, said Maj. Robert Carver with the North Carolina National Guard.

Two of the battalion's units, the Charlie Medical Company and the Headquarters Company, are based in Goldsboro.

Carver said brigade members will return home starting next week.

"The whole brigade is coming home," Carver said. The news "really hasn't been something we could (talk about) or we could count on until the last 48 hours."

The first batch will come home by New Year's Day, with another group tentatively expected to return around Jan. 7, Carver said. The exact dates could be altered if military transportation provisions change.

About 200 brigade soldiers, most of them volunteers, will stay behind in Kuwait to load the unit's equipment onto ships and return by March, Carver said.

The 30th was one of the first major National Guard units to rotate into Iraq, providing relief for other troops in the country. Five members have been killed in action during the brigade deployment.

The brigade provided security and reconstruction help north and east of Baghdad.

A guard unit from Tennessee is replacing the 30th brigade and has been in place for weeks.

The brigade was the first unit of its size from the North Carolina National Guard to be called to combat since World War II. Gen. Richard Myers, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, saw the soldiers off at a ceremony this past February at Fort Bragg.

Most 30th brigade members will arrive in North Carolina in flights to Pope Air Force Base. Ceremonies observing their return will be held at individual guard armories in January. A larger brigade-wide celebration will be held in the spring, Carver said.

The Clinton-headquartered 30th comprises units based at armories from Wilmington to Charlotte.

Between 1,000 and 2,000 North Carolina guard members from several other units will remain in Iraq, Carver said.

Tens of thousands of active-duty troops at Fort Bragg, Camp Lejeune and other North Carolina bases have served in Iraq and Afghanistan to fight the war on terror.