1138th Military Police Co. welcomed home from Iraq

By: Ashley N. Ward
Unit Public Affairs Representative

WEST PLAINS, Mo. - Nearly one year after reporting to Fort Bliss, Texas for mobilization training, 140 Citizen-Soldiers from the Missouri National Guard's 1138th Military Police Company have returned home from Iraq.

The company, based in West Plains and with a detachment in Springfield, was welcomed home by friends, family and community supporters at the West Plains Civic Center on Sunday, June 13. Several local and state leaders were also in attendance, including the Adjutant General of the Missouri National Guard, Brig. Gen. Stephen Danner, and Missouri Governor Jay Nixon.

"You have served your country and your state honorably and with distinction in a part of the world where your constant vigilance, professionalism and courage were required every minute," said Nixon. "You can take great satisfaction in knowing that the impact and the benefits of your completed mission will be long lasting. Iraq must continue to move in the direction of being both secure and self governing and your work in those causes has been invaluable."

While deployed to Camp Cropper, Iraq, the Soldiers were tasked with performing various strategic missions in the area, including conducting detention center operations, maintaining evidence and providing security oversight for the internment facility and its detainees. The 1138th was also relied on for a variety of other highly visible missions, including an assignment that involved working with the FBI to update a database used in counterterrorism operations.

"We were the sole Missouri unit on Victory Base and I can tell you over and over that these men and women were selected for high value missions," said Capt. Christopher Powers, commander of the unit. "Without them, I'm very confident in saying that there would have been several strategic issues."

Danner agreed.

"You did have a tough mission, an extraordinarily tough mission, and you came through it with flying colors... but as far as the staff and the state is concerned, our mission doesn't stop here for the 1138th," said Danner. "I can't emphasize enough that while we all talk about war fighting and training for the fight... we also have to remember that we've got to take care of troops and families once they're home and return because the fight continues for all of us in that manner."

Nixon echoed the sentiment, promising that Missouri and its communities would stand behind the Soldiers as they readjusted to life at home. The governor also expressed hope that more employers would join the 'Show Me Heroes' initiative, a pledge that showcases businesses' willingness to hire veterans returning from the world's battlefields.

"Each of your stood up for us when your state and nation called; we will make sure that we stand up for you now that you're home," said Nixon.

Col. Gary Gilmore, state chaplain for the Missouri National Guard, said that after all the hard work, it was now time for each Citizen-Soldier to take off his or her Army hat for a while and replace it with a Cardinals or Royals hat instead.

"Go home," said Gilmore. "Enjoy the blessings of the freedoms that you have secured for yourselves and for us all."

Also in attendance at the ceremony were Missouri first lady Georganne Nixon; the state command sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. James Schulte; the 70th Troop Command commander, Col. Wendul Hagler; the 70th Troop Command command sergeant major, Command Sgt. Maj. Robert Aegerter; the 175th Military Police Battalion commander, Lt. Col. Sharon Martin; Sen. Chuck Purgason and the mayor of West Plains, Jim Evans.

The color guard was provided by the West Plains Veterans of Foreign Wars and American Legion.

Posted: 6/18/2010 10:39:36 AM

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