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    Illinois National Guard unit keeps the peace, returns in one piece



    Story by Sgt. Rob Cooper 

    Camp Atterbury Public Affairs

    Illinois National Guard unit keeps the peace, returns in one piece
    by Rob Cooper, Crier staff writer

    BLOOMINGTON, Ill. — Security is of the highest importance when it comes to life as an American Soldier in Iraq. The constant threat of insurgent attacks is a way of life for those deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, prompting immediate, expert security forces to combat the chaos.

    For many Soldiers conducting missions within the confines of a Forward Operating Base there, safety and security ride upon the backs of the Military Police (MP), trained professionals in the fields of keeping peace and preventing harm to those they protect.

    The 33rd MP Battalion, Bloomington, Ill. is one such unit. Recently, 67 members of the Illinois National Guard unit's Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment (HHD) returned home following a 14-month deployment to Southern Iraq. During their time there, the unit provided both security and logistical support to thousands of fellow service members.

    "Our primary mission was to run the base defenses and monitor internal and external patrols," said 1st Sgt. Jeff Beightler, first sergeant for the HHD. "Inside the base, we supplemented the main security forces by responding to anything from small arms fire to mortar attacks to riots. We also provided external patrols along the perimeter of the base."

    While on base, which served as a detention facility for insurgents, the unit made sure that any attempts of escape by detainees was met with swift action.

    "Since we were at a Theater Interment Facility, there were a lot of insurgents," Beightler said. "There were numerous occasions that they tried to get away, but they wouldn't get very far. They tried everything from burning tents to starting riots. We dealt with those incidents in a professional manner just like the escapee training we received on a monthly basis."

    In addition to security measures, the unit also used many of their drivers to accomplish thousands of supply runs to and from the base. Beightler said that the unit's trucks would run at least five of their trucks three to five days a week, hauling everything from food to various other supplies.

    "We made at least 1,000 runs during our deployment," he said. "Our guys were out on the road a lot, even helping to load and unload the supplies. Many of them had long days and short nights."

    "These Soldiers were highly motivated, knew their jobs and did them in a professional manner," Beightler added. "I'm very proud of them."

    The proof of the unit's professional attitude and service can be found in the numbers (or lack thereof), said unit commander Capt. Jeff Beierman.

    "We were the only unit out of approximately 3,500 others on base that had zero vehicle accidents, zero KIA (killed in action), zero property loss and zero negligent discharge (accidental weapons discharge)," he said.

    But the real accomplishment came from a promise made before the deployment even took place.

    "We made a vow that everyone who left with us came back with us with everything attached," Beightler said. "Nobody got hurt, and we kept that vow."



    Date Taken: 10.01.2007
    Date Posted: 10.01.2007 08:05
    Story ID: 12624
    Location: US

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