While the Wisconsin Army National Guard just welcomed home its last unit to serve in the Iraq War, approximately 130 Soldiers with the Oshkosh-based 1157th Transportation Company are expected to report for active duty in early 2012 for a deployment to Kuwait.
Capt. Christian Menden of Green Bay, commander of the 1157th, said that the unit trained up on common Soldier tasks, individual and crew-served weapons, and rollover training for Humvees and Mine-Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles, Nov. 1-18 at Fort McCoy.
"It was a blast," Menden said.
"The weather was excellent, and we even got a bonus one day when it snowed," said 1st Lt. Nate Wilhelms, an 1157th platoon leader. "We fired our pistols that day, so we got that training experience."
Menden said that unit morale was very high.
Members of the 1157th Transportation Company train at the M2 .50-caliber range during recent training at Fort McCoy, Wis. Photo by Rob Schuette
"We have so many young Soldiers who have not deployed," he explained. "The younger Soldiers have embraced this training to prepare themselves, and they're taking advice from the older Soldiers. Everyone is willing to do their time."
Menden said that approximately 30 percent of his Soldiers - mostly in leadership positions - have prior deployment experience.
"That's great for us," he said.
The unit is scheduled to conduct several weeks of mobilization training at Camp Shelby, Miss., before deploying to Kuwait for approximately nine months. The company is expected to serve in a force protection role, which may involve base security or convoy security operations.
The 1157th has been called to active duty on four previous occasions. In 1990 the unit mobilized and served overseas for about five months in support of Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm. In 2002 the company provided transportation support to Army Special Operations Support Command and other units stationed at Fort Bragg, N.C., for approximately 11 months. In September 2005 the unit was among a dozen Wisconsin National Guard units ordered to active duty to support Hurricane Katrina relief efforts in Louisiana. Its last deployment was to Iraq in 2006, where it logged more than 300,000 miles hauling fuel and other cargo.
Rob Schuette, Fort McCoy public affairs, contributed to this report.