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Nearly 500 from area deployed in war effort

March 24, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

About 500 area military personnel are in undisclosed parts of southwest Asia and others are standing by to be deployed as part of the United States' Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Eileen Mitchell, spokesperson for Fort Detrick in Frederick, Md., said about 180 people, including a U.S. Marine Corps reserves unit based out of the U.S. Army installation, have been deployed to parts of southwest Asia for the war effort.

The Marine unit, the 4th Light Armored Recognizance Battalion, was activated during 1991s U.S. Operation Desert Shield. The unit will be involved in fighting within Iraq, Mitchell said.

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The remaining reserves from Fort Detrick will provide medical support to troops, she said.

Mitchell said there are usually about 4,700 U.S. Department of Defense personnel at Fort Detrick who support troops from the base and are rarely deployed.

Lt. Col. Roger Sencindiver, spokesperson for the 167th Airlift Wing of the Air National Guard based in Martinsburg, W.Va., said 100 people were deployed earlier this month to unspecified parts of southwest Asia.

Another 100 have been deployed to Puerto Rico and smaller numbers of personnel are spread out in different locations related to the war effort.

"Really that could change any day," Sencindiver said.

He said a communications outage has prevented the base from keeping in contact with its members in or near the war zone.

Sencindiver said there are about 1,200 people in the wing, but not all of those members are eligible to be deployed, for reasons such as a lack of basic training. He said wing members are air crew members of C-130 aircraft who pilot, navigate, repair or load the planes.

Maj. Charles Kohler, spokesman for the Maryland National Guard, said no one from Hagerstown has been deployed to southwest Asia.

Sgt. Robert Howe, recruiter for the 157th Military Police Co., said the 250-person unit, which includes about 125 people based out of Martinsburg and 125 people based out of Moundsville, W.Va., had been sent to undisclosed parts of Southwest Asia.

"We're all by ourselves up here," he said.

Howe said the unit - military police with an enemy and prisoner of war specialty - is operating a prison camp.

A "substantial portion" of the area's U.S. Army Reserve's 99th Regional Support Command Units, Hagerstown's 1007th Maintenance Co., Greencastle's 309th Transportation Co. and Martinsburg's 351st Maintenance Co. have been mobilized, said Sgt. Harriet White, personnel non-commissioned officer for the 1007th. She wouldn't say how many people are in the 1007th unit, citing security concerns.

The 99th Regional Support Command Unit Web site states there are 18 Maryland units with 825 soldiers among them.

White said a signal unit based out of Frederick also has been mobilized.

"When you mobilize you attach with units that are prepared to go overseas and then you deploy," White said.

She said the 1007th is responsible for repairing power generators, engines for HUM-Vs and light- and heavyweight vehicles.

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