It will be a bittersweet Christmas for hundreds of area men and women who comprise the 1st Battalion, 112th Infantry, 56th Stryker Division who will be arriving home over the next few days for a short-lived holiday with loved ones. After reporting back to training Jan. 2, the group will return to Fort Indiantown Gap where they will meet up with other Pennsylvania National Guardsmen to finish their last leg of training before their deployment to the war in the Middle East.

Battalion Executive Officer Major Timothy J. Foor Sr. said Saturday members of the group would begin departing after midnight Sunday and, depending on their mode of transportation, he expected many would be arriving at their destinations throughout the day today.

While many of the soldiers who comprise the 56th Stryker Brigade Combat Team of the 28th Infantry Division may not have known one another a few months ago, three months of intensive training at various locations has brought the Guardsmen together as a unit that will fight together in Iraq in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Orders from the Department of Defense were announced June 30 that four brigades and two regimental combat teams, along with additional units would be deployed sometime in early 2009.

In all the deployment will amount to approximately 33,000 personnel who will be sent to conduct a wide range of operations.

Capt. Steve Huckaby, officer in charge of the Readiness Center in Cambridge Springs, said troops will be dispersing from Fort Indiantown Gap in southeastern Pennsylvania.



Penni Schaefer can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at pschaefer@meadvilletribune.com.

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