A standing-room crowd of family, friends, and other well-wishers gathered to celebrate and say farewell to the deploying soldiers of Headquarters and Headquarters Company (H.H.C.), 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Infantry Division (2-34 B.C.T.) at the Boone Campus of Des Moines Area Community College (DMACC) Friday morning, July 30.
Calling the soldiers of the 2-34 BCT "the finest troops on the planet Earth," Iowa Gov. Chet Culver urged those present to reach out to National Guard families during the brigade's 12-month deployment. "I think they will, because Iowans are at their best when we have a friend or neighbor in need," he said.
Army Brig. Gen. Timothy Orr, the Adjutant General of the State of Iowa, noted in his remarks that the town of Boone had seen many previous deployments. "And we've packed this place every time," he said. "That's indicative of the support of this community, and the surrounding communities, on the Iowa National Guard."
Citing an Iowa tradition with roots in the American Civil War, Orr presented Col. Ben Corell, commander of the 2-34 BCT, with an Iowa flag to fly over Afghanistan.
Soldiers marched in single file at both the open and close of the half-hour ceremony, accompanied by the bagpipes of the MacKenzie Highlanders. Other dignitaries present included John Slight, the Mayor of the Town of Boone, as well as field representatives of the U.S. Congressional delegation of Iowa.
Following the ceremony, soldiers loaded their bags onto commercial buses, and spent approximately an hour talking with friends and family before departing for Camp Shelby, Miss. The unit will train there and other stateside locations prior to movement to Afghanistan.
For a listing of other send-off ceremonies of other brigade units by geographic location, click here.
For a listing of other send-off ceremonies of other brigade units by date, click here.
For a July 30 Des Moines Register interview with Col. Ben Corell, describing the background and context for the deployment, click here.
For a July 30 Des Moines Register blog post describing the activities of one HHC, 2-34 BCT family prior to the send-off ceremony, click here.