Operation Enduring Freedom

 

Nearly 3,000 Iowa National Guard soldiers are preparing for the Iowa Guard’s largest deployment since World War II. Now, all those soldiers have their boots on the ground in Afghanistan. KCRG-TV9 News has followed the troops during every step of their training at Camp Ripley, Minnesota, Camp Shelby, Mississippi and Fort Irwin, California.

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Soldiers Being Welcomed Home in Coralville

CORALVILLE, Iowa - A year ago, they were tears of sadness. Monday, they were happiness. Both times, they came out of love. Spc. Andrew Anderson on Monday hugged his son, Jackson, tight, his eyes red with... Read More »

220 National Guard Soldiers Welcomed Home in Dubuque

DUBUQUE, Iowa - An unforgettable welcome home ceremony in Dubuque for 220 Iowa National Guard soldiers back from Afghanistan. The homecoming ceremony for Companies A and D, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry,... Read More »

15 Days: A Soldier's Journey Home

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - April Donelson spent 146 days waiting. “We’re halfway done,” she said as she stood in The Eastern Iowa Airport, holding her 2-year-old son, Brody. Read More »

Iowa Soldiers Stay In Touch From the Battlefield

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Specialist Brianne Roe, 24, of Coralville and serving with the 416 Transportation Company of the U.S. Army, makes a virtual visit to her mom’s house several times a week. “You can... Read More »

Soldier Comes Home Just in Time for Son’s Birth

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Iowa National Guard soldiers stationed in Afghanistan right now will miss plenty of moments in Iowa while they complete their mission. But, every soldier gets the chance to come home... Read More »

Cedar Rapids Soldier Surprises Family for the Holidays

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa – As Sergeant Raymond Ropa took his first steps back in Cedar Rapids, his wife, Kris, was at home preparing their children to celebrate Christmas without their dad. Ropa is serving with... Read More »

National Guard Soldiers Adjust to Being Away From Home for the Holidays

Specialist Kevin Reilly of Oxford Junction, 21, and serving with the B. Company 1-133, has formed a bond with his fellow soldiers that feels like a family. But, these guys will never replace the family... Read More »

Away from Home for the Holidays: The Seydel Family

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Ever since he was a teenager, Private First Class Colton Seydel of Solon, 20, and serving with the B. Company of the 1-133, has wanted to serve his country. But, that desire places... Read More »

Student Soldiers Earn Degrees While Deployed

FORT IRWIN, CALIFORINIA – Soldiers on this National Guard deployment learn life lessons every day. Specialist Emily Keating of Iowa City, 20, and serving with the C. Company of the 334 BSB, also studies... Read More »

Families Prepare Christmas Surprises for Soldiers

CEDAR RAPIDS – A group of wives and children gathered inside the Cedar Rapids VFW Hall Sunday afternoon to send a few holiday surprises to their husbands. Christmas is still about seven weeks away, but... Read More »

Iowa Soldiers Face the Reality of War

FORT IRWIN, CALIFORNIA – The first group of Iowa National Guard soldiers are already in Afghanistan. For the past few months, troops have been training at Camp Ripley, Minnesota, Camp Shelby, Mississippi... Read More »

LIVE CHAT, Noon: Mark Geary, Jim Slosiarek On Covering Soldier Training

KCRG-TV9’s Mark Geary and photographer Jim Slosiarek will take part in a live chat at noon Thursday on to talk about their experience covering the Iowa soldier training. The coverage has taken Geary and... Read More »

Afghanistan Simulation Prepares Iowa National Guard Soldiers For War

FORT IRWIN, CALIFORNIA – Iowa National Guard soldiers will face danger just about everywhere they go in Afghanistan. Insurgents could shoot at them, throw grenades and even use bombs. Before they face... Read More »

WEB EXCLUSIVE: Moon Dust

Fort Irwin is a dusty place. The military forbids soldiers from wearing contacts because they are concerned about dust particles causing an infection. Every soldier’s gear and uniform becomes coated in... Read More »

WEB EXCLUSIVE: Ready to Go

Maj. Mike Wunn of the Iowa National Guard discusses how all the training troops have gone through will prepare them for their mission in Afghanistan. Check out this web-exclusive interview to learn more... Read More »

Mark Geary’s Reporter Notebook: Fort Irwin – Friday, October 1

Fort Irwin, California is in the middle of the Mojave Desert. Officials here told us it only rains for a total of about two weeks a year. Last night, around 2:00 or 3:00 a.m., it started pouring. Then,... Read More »

Mark Geary’s Reporter Notebook: Fort Irwin – Thursday, September 30

If you ever do any research about the National Training Center, you’ll certainly come across plenty of information about the realistic Afghan villages sprinkled throughout the facility. One of the most... Read More »

Mark Geary’s Reporter Notebook: Fort Irwin – Wednesday, September 29

We were up and ready to go this morning before the sun rose again. This is the half-way point of our time at The National Training Center. Nearly everyone we have spoken to this week is surviving on little... Read More »

Mark Geary’s Reporter Notebook: Fort Irwin – Tuesday, September 28

We woke up at 5:00 a.m. today, packed up all of our gear, and headed over to the “Chow Hall” for breakfast. Eggs, biscuits and gravy, sausage and cereal were on the menu. Then, we were ready to travel... Read More »

Mark Geary’s Reporter Notebook: Fort Irwin – Monday, September 27

You can’t simply fly to Fort Irwin, California from Cedar Rapids, or any other airport for that matter. Instead, you have to fly in to a nearby city. The Iowa National Guard suggested flying into Las Vegas,... Read More »

Iowa National Guard Looks into Soldiers’ Pay Issues

FORT IRWIN, Calif. — Getting ready to deploy to Afghanistan requires intense training and commitment. But some Iowa National Guard members say problems with their pay have left them concerned for their... Read More »

War is Hell: Intense, Realistic Training for Iowa Troops

FORT IRWIN, Calif. — Down a dusty dirt road, U.S. soldiers enter an Afghan village on a peacekeeping mission. Moments later, insurgents blow up the soldiers’ Humvee. Each of the three men inside loses... Read More »

Guard Soldiers Have New Mission: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

As Iowa National Guard soldiers train at Fort Irwin, California for their mission to Afghanistan, they create a lot of trash. In the past, that garbage went straight to the landfill. But now there's a... Read More »

Care Packages for Iowa National Guard Soldiers

IOWA CITY, Iowa - Iowa National Guard soldiers in Afghanistan won’t be able to simply run to a convenience store to buy whatever they need. That’s why care packages are so important. It takes awhile for... Read More »

WEB EXCLUSIVE: Soldiers’ Living Quarters

In this video, we’ll show you where soldiers at Fort Irwin, California are living and explain how it’s different from Camp Ripley and Camp Shelby. It’s a story you’ll only see here on KCRG.com.... Read More »

No Privacy in Close Quarters for National Guard Soldiers

FORT IRWIN, CALIFORNIA – About 3,000 Iowa National Guard soldiers are preparing to deploy to Afghanistan right now at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, California. Many are sleeping on cots in... Read More »

Practice Eases Stress For National Guard Medics

FORT IRWIN, CA - Approximately 3,000 Iowa National Guard soldiers will be in Afghanistan by Thanksgiving. Right now, those troops are polishing their skills at the National Training Center in Fort Irwin,... Read More »

PHOTOS: Arriving at Fort Irwin with Soldiers from the Iowa National Guard

Reporter Mark Geary is at Fort Irwin in California covering National Guard Training with Iowa soldiers. You can’t simply fly to Fort Irwin, California from Cedar Rapids, or any other airport... Read More »

Iowa Soldiers Cheer for Hawkeyes, Cyclones from Afar

CAMP SHELBY, Mississippi – Step inside any soldier living area at Camp Shelby and you're bound to come across black and gold pillows, blankets and even loofahs. "They're real top contenders this year... Read More »

Inside the Military's New MRAP Vehicle

CAMP SHELBY – Battles in Afghanistan are happening more and more in non-traditional places, like roads and streets. Road-side bombs have become so common, the military had to create a stronger vehicle... Read More »

Mark Geary's Reporter Notebook: Camp Shelby

As I’m writing this, we’re in the car driving from Memphis back to Cedar Rapids. The past week has been an unforgettable experience for all of us. When you’re a journalist and you get the chance to visit... Read More »

Mark Geary’s Reporter Notebook: Camp Shelby, Thurdsay, August 26

Today was our final day at Camp Shelby. We finished up our work last night around 1:30 a.m. and everyone fell asleep right away. At 4:30 a.m., soldiers’ alarm clocks started going off. Our final breakfast... Read More »

Operation Enduring Freedom: Trying The Food

As part of their training at Camp Shelby, Iowa National Guard soldiers are sampling authentic Afghan food. The goal is to get soldiers to understand the Afghan's culture and traditions. Watch the video.... Read More »

Operation Enduring Freedom: Serving Together

CAMP SHELBY, Mississippi – Sergeant First Class Heidi Lansing of Company B 334 BSB and from Ely keeps track of just about any piece of equipment soldiers need to succeed. “My job is to be accountable... Read More »

Operation Enduring Freedom: Post Exchange

CAMP SHELBY, MISSISSIPPI – Iowa National Guard soldiers flock to the Camp Shelby Post Exchange (PX) every day. It’s a convenience store located within walking distance from many of their living quarters.... Read More »

Operation Enduring Freedom: 'The Shoot House'

CAMP SHELBY – Iowa National Guard soldiers will be in situations in Afghanistan that will force them to make life and death decisions in a matter of seconds. While at Camp Shelby, soldiers participate... Read More »

PHOTO GALLERY: Camp Shelby, Wednesday August 25th

Nearly 3,000 Iowa National Guard soldiers are training this month in Mississippi. It’s part of their preparation for the Iowa Guard’s largest deployment since World War II, one that will eventually send... Read More »

Mark Geary’s Reporter Notebook: Camp Shelby Wednesday, August 25

CAMP SHELBY - As I mentioned yesterday, we’re staying at a different part of Camp Shelby right now. About one hundred soldiers are stationed out here with us. Instead of cinderblock buildings, soldiers... Read More »

WATCH: Life at a Forward Operating Base

Iowa soldiers are living in all kinds of different conditions at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. KCRG-TV9's Mark Geary takes you to one of Shelby's Forward Operating Bases.... Read More »

Operation Enduring Freedom: Mississippi Heat

CAMP SHELBY, Mississippi – Iowa soldiers face unexpected threats every day while training at Camp Shelby, Mississippi. Yet, heat is the one enemy they can never seem to avoid. Scorching temperatures taunt... Read More »

Mark Geary’s Reporter Notebook: Camp Shelby Tuesday, August 24

Last night, we all actually slept for about five hours or so. After a few days here with the Iowa National Guard, we’re finally getting used to the schedule. By 6:45 a.m., we were all having “chow.” No... Read More »

Military Women Serve Side by Side with Men

CAMP SHELBY, Miss. - Two hundred of the 3,000 Iowa National Guard soldiers headed for Afghanistan later this year are women. About fifty of those women are Specialists, and twenty others are Captains or... Read More »

Mark Geary’s Reporter Notebook: Camp Shelby Monday, August 23rd

We stayed up until 1:00 a.m. last night writing and editing the stories we gathered throughout the day. None of us got much sleep. We had to wake up at 5:30 a.m. so we could have enough time to get ready... Read More »

Iowa Soldiers Will Be First to Wear New Uniforms in Afghanistan

CAMP SHELBY, Mississippi – About 3,000 Iowa National Guard Soldiers are stationed at Camp Shelby, Mississippi right now training for Afghanistan. The soldiers will all have their boots on the ground in... Read More »

Operation Enduring Freedom: Coping Couple

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - One Cedar Rapids couple understands the Iowa National Guard deployment process more than most. On May 1, Staff Sergeant Shaun Swiser of the HHC 2nd BCT based out of Boone married Sergeant... Read More »

Mark Geary’s Reporter Notebook: Camp Shelby Sunday, August 22nd

Nearly 3,000 Iowa National Guard soldiers are training this month in Mississippi. It’s part of their preparation for the Iowa Guard’s largest deployment since World War II, one that will eventually send... Read More »

Iowa Troops Get New Afganistan-Specific Camouflage

HATTIESBURG, Miss. (AP) - About 3,600 soldiers at south Mississippi's Camp Shelby have been fitted for and received the latest in Army equipment. After years of testing and months after being announced,... Read More »

Sendoffs Begin For Iowa National Guard Troops Heading to Afghanistan

DES MOINES (AP) — Sendoffs are planned across the state for the Iowa National Guard in its largest deployment since WWII. Over two dozens ceremonies will take place from Friday to Aug. 9 for 2,800 members... Read More »

Reporter's Notebook: Camp Ripley – Final Thoughts/Observations

Here are a few final thoughts and observations about our time at Camp Ripley, Minnesota that I didn’t have time to share earlier… When you’re inside Camp Ripley, Minnesota, you feel insulated and shielded... Read More »

Inside the Military's MRE (Meal Ready to Eat)

CAMP RIPLEY, MINNESOTA – Hours of intense drills can physically drain a soldier. The MRE – or Meal Ready to Eat – fuels soldiers for their next round of training at Camp Ripley, Minnesota and will eventually... Read More »

Reporter’s Notebook: Camp Ripley – Wednesday, June 23 (Final Day)

We woke up at 5:00 a.m., got ready for the day and started shooting video around 5:30 a.m. this morning. We wanted to get some footage of soldiers getting their breakfast. Every morning and every evening,... Read More »

(WEB EXCLUSIVE) Weapon Clearing

To prevent accidents or injuries, every building (and many areas) have special barrels stationed out front. Every time a soldier carrying a weapon passes by them, they must “clear their weapon.” This essentially... Read More »

Married to the Rifle: National Guard Soldiers’ Critical Piece of Equipment

CAMP RIPLEY, MINNESOTA – Iowa National Guard soldiers deploying to Afghanistan later this year will face danger every day. That’s why they’re getting used to defending themselves now while they train at... Read More »

National Guard Soldiers Train with the Big Guns

Iowa National Guard soldiers are preparing to head to Afghanistan later this year. Soldiers get a rush of adrenaline as they fire at enemy targets using a Howitzer. "It's a great feeling. The boom.... Read More »

(WEB EXCLUSIVE) How the Red Bulls Got Their Name

The 2/34th Infantry Brigade Combat Team calls themselves “Red Bulls.” In this video, watch Staff Sergeant Jason Ballina of Dubuque explain how the group got its nickname. It’s a fascinating story you’ll... Read More »

Reporter’s Notebook: Camp Ripley – Tuesday, June 22

CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - The sound of soldiers getting ready for the day woke us up this morning around 6:00 a.m. It’s kind of odd to be writing this, but I feel like I’m actually getting used to being awake... Read More »

Million-Dollar Nat. Guard Device Patrols the Air

CAMP RIPLEY, MINNESOTA – If you came across the Iowa National Guard running a training exercise with its high-tech, unmanned surveillance plane, you probably wouldn’t realize the innocuous looking remote-controlled... Read More »

(WEB EXCLUSIVE) Life in the Barracks

Soldiers find themselves in all sorts of different living conditions while they train at Camp Ripley, Minnesota. Some sleep under the stars, others stay in large tents known as Forward Operating Bases... Read More »

Reporter’s Notebook: Camp Ripley – Monday, June 21

CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - Nearly 3,000 Iowa National Guard soldiers are training this month in Minnesota. It’s part of their preparation for the Iowa Guard’s largest deployment since World War II, one that... Read More »

After Training: Soldiers in the Barracks

CAMP RIPLEY, MN – Some of the Iowa National Guard’s most memorable moments at Camp Ripley happen in the confines of small rooms and large tents they call home. After a day of exhausting and intense training,... Read More »

Reporter’s Notebook: Camp Ripley – Sunday, June 20

CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. - We arrived at Camp Ripley, Minnesota around 5:00 Sunday afternoon. Major Mike Wunn from the Iowa National Guard met us at the gate and helped get everyone checked in and ready for... Read More »

(WEB EXCLUSIVE) Governor Chet Culver Visits Camp Ripley

Governor Chet Culver visited Camp Ripley to witness the Iowa National Guard training first-hand. The governor visited Iowa soldiers serving in Iraq earlier this year. Culver says he plans to visit Iowa... Read More »

Iowa's Guard Troops: Training With Afghans

CAMP RIPLEY, Minn. -- Nearly 3,000 Iowa National Guard soldiers are training this month in Minnesota. It's part of their preparation for the Iowa Guard's largest deployment since World War II -- one that... Read More »

Training with the Troops: Ready for Battle

CAMP RIPLEY, Minn — Nearly 3,000 Iowa National Guard soldiers are training this month in Minnesota. It’s part of their preparation for the Iowa Guard’s largest deployment since World War II, one that will... Read More »

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