Guardsmen from the Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment of the 175th Military Police Battalion accompanied by Citizen-Soldiers from the 2175th Military Police Company, the 1137th Military Police Company, and the 3175th Chemical Company are welcomed home from Qatar by friends and Family during a ceremony at Columbia College. (Photo by Rachel Knight/Missouri National Guard)
By Rachel Knight
COLUMBIA, Mo. - The Missouri National Guard's Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment of the 175th Military Police Battalion and members of other elements deployed to Qatar were welcomed home by Family, friends and the community of Columbia during a ceremony Saturday afternoon at Columbia College.
The 175th Military Police Battalion, headquartered in Columbia, deployed over 70 Soldiers in September to Qatar with a total of over 450 Guardsmen including Citizen-Soldiers from the 2175th Military Police Company in Hannibal and Moberly, the 1137th Military Police Company in Kennett, and the 3175th Chemical Company in St. Louis County.
Over 110 Soldiers from the 175th, 2175th, 1137th, and the 3175th stepped off four buses at Columbia College and were welcomed by their loved ones who held signs proudly and applauded them for their service overseas.
The 175th served as the senior command on the deployment and were commanded by Lt. Col. Sharon Martin. HHD was led by their commander Capt. John Pfanstiel, and Sgt. 1st Class Michael Niekamp. They provided critical site security, convoy escort missions, transportation and other additional duties to the area and specifically at the military bases located in the area.
Maj. Gen. Stephen L. Danner, adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard, said, "We are proud today to not only have the 175th MP Battalion here, but also elements of the 2175th MP Company, the 1137th MP Company and the 3175th Chemical Company as well."
He reminded the Soldiers of their promise to him when he visited Qatar to continue their mission with the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program once they returned home. But this program isn't only for the service members; it's for their Families too.
The post-deployment events are in two phases. Phase one is intended to provide returning service members and their Families information about new benefits they have access to now that they've returned home, as well as information on changes to benefits they had while they were deployed. Additionally, subject matter experts help service members and their supporters reconnect, and provide information on assimilating experiences from their deployment in a positive manner.
Phase two is designed to provide service members and their families with additional information on their benefits, especially those that change or end over time. More time is spent on reconnecting service members and families, and time is provided with subject matter experts to discuss continuing or developing issues following deployment.
Danner concluded by telling everyone that "these Soldiers have protected our freedom."
During the ceremony, the oldest and youngest Citizen-Soldier presented the American and State flags that were flown proudly while the unit was deployed to Qatar.
Master Sgt. Kenneth Sims, the oldest Guardsmen on this deployment, presented the American Flag to Danner. Spc. Erica Guzman, the youngest Guardsmen, presented the Missouri Flag to state Command Sgt. Maj. James Schulte.
"These flags will be proudly displayed in the 175th Military Police Battalion armory here in Columbia," said Capt. Jakin J. Waldock, emcee for the ceremony.
The 175th has a rich history of serving the state of Missouri and the United States. It was federally recognized Feb. 16, 1948 and has supported state of emergency duties to include the Great Flood of 1993, Hurricane Katrina Relief Operations and flooding in southeast Missouri this spring.
They have gone on overseas deployment training to Korea in 1987 and again to Panama in 1991. In 2003, the battalion was deployed as the military police battalion headquarters for the Kosovo peacekeeping operation.
Since their return, they've added a new chapter in its rich history with their deployment to Qatar.
The battalion conducted approximately 240 transportation missions in which over 450 Soldiers were safely transported to and from the airport for R&R. Soldiers assigned to the tax preparation center in Qatar prepared over 270 federal and state tax returns for both military and civilian contractors saving over $35,000 in filing fees. The battalion's Fly a Flag program flew 370 United States flags over Qatar during deployment at the request of battalion Soldiers.
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1st Lt. Jacob Condon, of Kirksville, has two very important fans waiting for his arrival back from deployment to Qatar with Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment of the 175th Military Police Battalion. His wife, Heather, and daughter, Olivia, wait for the buses to arrive. (Photo by Rachel Knight/Missouri National Guard)