News: Last of 149th Infantry Battalion arrives safely in Iraq
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq – Hot wind gusts on the runway at Joint Base Balad, Iraq, Aug. 10 as the last of 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry Regiment, 77th Sustainment Brigade, 310th Expeditionary Sustainment Command’s soldiers arrive fresh off a cargo jet to begin their mission as armed convoy escorts in the last days of American operations in Iraq.
Some of these soldiers will be staying at JBB while others continue north to a base just outside Tikrit, Iraq. All will play a crucial part in making sure U.S. forces safely reposture equipment and personnel from northern Iraq by the Dec. 31 deadline.
“I think the unit is set up very well for the mission we're going to have, and our equipment is state-of-the-art,” said Lt. Col. Bryan Howay, commander of the 1st Battalion. “I have no doubt in my mind if we apply what we know and stick to our mission, we will be very successful.”
As part of the 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, the 149th Infantry Regiment is a key player in the largest deployment of Kentucky Army National Guard soldiers since World War II. As convoy escorts, the 149th Inf. Regiment will be responsible for ensuring supplies move safely from one base to another before eventually leaving Iraq in December.
“It's important for us to get our guys back home safely and efficiently,” said Pfc. Bryan Orme, an information management officer for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 149th Inf. Regt. “I'm excited to start doing my job but even more excited to get it done and come home.”
The 149th Infantry Regt. is composed of units from cities around southeastern Kentucky, to include Barbourville, Somerset, Harlan, Middlesboro, London and Ravenna. Over the course of the coming weeks, the 149th Inf. Regt. will face many obstacles while starting their mission, but two months after mobilizing in early June, they are certainly prepared to begin their mission.
“Our guys are well trained, excited to take over the mission and willing to do whatever it takes to complete it,” Howay said. “The unit we're replacing is very good and have been excellent mentors so far. If we can be half as successful as they were, I'll consider it a good rotation.”