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More than 100 Pa. National Guard members coming home

August 28, 2009|By JENNIFER FITCH

CHAMBERSBURG, Pa. -- More than 100 Pennsylvania National Guard members based in Chambersburg were expected to return to the United States on Saturday.

Capt. Cory Angell, a public information officer, said flight times can change, but the soldiers were expected to arrive in Fort Dix, N.J., Saturday morning. They've been deployed to Iraq since the start of 2009.

The 2nd Squadron of the 104th Cavalry is part of the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team.

Angell said he's not sure when the unit's comrades who are based in the Waynesboro, Pa., armory will return. More than 4,000 Guardsmen from the Stryker Brigade are leaving the Middle East in the coming weeks.

Returning soldiers can expect a 13- to 14-hour flight from Kuwait, Angell said. They'll turn in weapons upon landing stateside, then listen to a welcome message and greet relatives, he said.

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"We bring them around the building and any family members who want to meet with the soldiers can," Angell said.

They'll spend a week in New Jersey for paperwork and medical evaluations, Angell said.

The Stryker Brigade trained in Mississippi and Louisiana before deploying to Taji, Iraq. The brigade was responsible for nine joint security station outposts and patrols in a 500-square-mile rural area 12 miles north of Baghdad.

The soldiers specialize in operations involving an armored combat vehicle that can hold more infantrymen than a Humvee.

The soldiers' jobs varied from working to improve electrical power in the area to assisting Iraqi soldiers in military operations. The brigade has completed more than $22 million in projects to help rebuild communities north of Baghdad, according to military officials.

Two members of the brigade died in Iraq. Staff Sgt. Mark C. Baum, of Quakertown, Pa., was killed Feb. 21 by small arms fire and Spec. Chad A. Edmondsun, of Williamsburg, Pa., was killed by an improvised explosive device on May 27.

Three guardsmen based in Chambersburg were injured during their deployment.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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