Recently deployed unit receives national award at homecoming ceremony

By THOMAS NELSON | Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier | Published: November 4, 2018

WATERLOO (Tribune News Service) — Returning Iowa National Guard soldiers received a national aviation award for their service while deployed.

Members of 248th Aviation Support Battalion had their homecoming ceremony Friday.

The unit was awarded the Army Aviation Association of America Outstanding Aviation Logistics Support Unit of the Year Award for its work across 12 locations in Kuwait, Iraq, Sryia, Jordan and Turkey.

“They really have distinguished themselves through not only their job as soldiers but also as aviators and mechanics and all the different military operation specialties that support their mission,” said Lt. Col. Mike Wunn, Iowa National Guard public affairs officer. “It’s really a testament to the quality of the soldiers that are in this unit and in the Iowa National Guard.”

Battalion Commander Lt. Col. Chuck Lampe released the soldiers from their formation after a final prayer.

Lampe, whose also is a state trooper, nominated his unit for the award and is proud to have those soldiers under his command, he said.

“One unit in the entire Army gets selected, and that was us,” Lampe said. “This award is another recognition of just how good the unit is that we have here in the state of Iowa. Our soldiers won that award.”

Sen. Joni Ernst congratulated the unit and took pictures with the soldiers.

“This is an opportunity for them to come back with their families and go through a reintegration program to make sure people are getting back to their normal lives,” Wunn said. “Our goal is really for those soldiers to get on with their lives, so we want to provide the services to do that.”

Homecomings are important to provide thanks to returning soldiers and provide family, communities and state leaders a chance to show their appreciation, Wunn said.

“It’s a big transition period for soldiers, and so a lot of us have been through it once or twice and we’ll look back and say this is necessary and needed,” Lampe said.

On Friday, more than 100 soldiers from Waterloo’s National Guard post returned from a year-long deployment, and a total of 390 Iowa National Guard soldiers were celebrated around Iowa. It was the largest, single-unit deployment of the Iowa National Guard since 2010.

Ceremonies also were held in Boone, Davenport and Muscatine.

“I’m extremely proud and humbled to be their battalion commander,” Lampe said. “They really raised the bar, for lack a better way to say it; they worked extremely hard, they’re competent, they’re professionals and they showed it.”

©2018 Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier (Waterloo, Iowa)
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