The 34th Transportation Detachment, commanded by Capt. Esther Beechler, became the first Iowa unit to be activated for Operation Joint Endeavor when it received its alert notice on Dec. 9, 1995.
A farewell ceremony was held on Dec. 17, and the seven-member unit left for Fort Dix, NJ, the next day. They deployed from nearby McGuire Air Force Base on Christmas Eve, arriving in Germany on Christmas Day.
Unit members went to work the next day at their new office in Hanau. By Jan. 20, they had assumed responsibility for coordinating loadouts and tracking all surface movements in and out of Germany. Transportation operations ran at a furious pace, 24 hours a day. Rail deployment operations ceased at the end of February, but truck and bus deployment operations remained constant.
Operations screeched to a halt in April because soldiers in Hungary and the former Yugoslavia needed time to catch up with unloading all the cargo that was pushed out of Germany. In May, units started coming back to Germany from the area of operations, and the rail mission picked up.
The replacement unit for the 34th arrived in July, and the 34th reported to the Reception, Staging, Onward Movement and Integration (RS(~I) site in Giessen, Ger., on July 29. The unit left Germany and flew to McGuire AFB on July 31. After outprocessing at Fort Dix, they flew to Des Moines on Aug. 3. The unit officially completed its active duty on Aug. 26.
Mobilization began for the 186th MPs, commanded by Capt. Dana Heil, on their report date, Dec. 27, 1995. The unit’s mission was to provide backfill support for USAREUR, performing the law enforcement duties of deployed MP companies. Specifically, unit members were to maintain order and enforce the law in American military communities in Germany—at a level consistent with community expectations. Their efforts were rewarded with numerous awards and plaques from the communities they served.
The 186th MPs fell under the operational control of the Michigan Army National Guard’s 210th Military Police Battalion, headquartered in Mannheim, Ger. The Iowa MPs were assigned to four separate German communities: Headquarters and 1st Platoon, Bad Krueznach; 2nd Platoon, Baumholder; 3rd Platoon, Wiesbaden; and 4th Platoon, Kirch-Goens. They remained apart until Aug. 7.
Duties in Germany included patrolling the communities, enforcing traffic regulations, performing security checks, setting driving-while-intoxicated checkpoints, and investigating incidents. Soldiers throughout the company had the opportunity to use a firearms simulator and become certified in the use of CPR, the Intoxilyzer 5000, and radar. Special highlights included helping a woman in labor, providing additional security for First Lady Hillary Clinton, and helping with security duties at an air show in Belgium.
The 186th was replaced by members of the 273rd Military Police Company. The latter arrived on July 14, and assumed 100% of road mission and patrol operations on July 31.
On August 2, the 186th held its first company formation since Jan. 17 at the RSOI site at Giessen, Ger. The unit flew to Fort Benning Aug. 10 and home to Des Moines on Aug. 14. Their last day of active duty was Aug. 16.
In January 1996, the 135th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment, commanded by Capt. Roger Etzel, received word that it was on a list of units facing possible deployment as part of the second rotation in support of Operation Joint Endeavor. That possibility became reality and 18 unit members reported for active duty on June 5. Twelve came from the "original" 135th. which is split between Iowa and Minnesota; the rest were volunteers from Iowa and other states.
After several days at Fort Dix, the unit arrived in Germany on June 17. Four days later, the unit was split up—and split up again several times, depending on mission requirements. PAD members ultimately were sent to 11 different countries.
One team was based at Wiesbaden Air Base with Task Force Victory, and the other two at Heidelberg, one serving US Army Europe (USAREUR) and the other, V Corps. Five unit members spent three months in Bosnia supporting an engineer battalion. The executive officer, Capt. Greg Hapgood, spent five months in Macedonia as the public affairs officer for Task Force Able Sentry, a UN initiative.
Missions included: daily analysis of media coverage of USAREUR operations; designing, editing and mailing the USAREUR annual report; shooting and editing video and releasing it to the media; and writing and photographing for print stories. Unit members also dealt with outside media and performed many staff functions.
The 135th was re-united in Heidelberg in mid-January, outprocessed at Babenhausen, Ger., outprocessed again at Fort Dix, and returned to Des Moines during half-time of Super Bowl XXX.
The U.S. mission in Bosnia has been extended indefinitely, and the name has been changed to Operation Joint Guard. "While the number of committed American troops has been reduced, we don’t know what the future requirements will be for Iowa Guard members," says Lt. Col. Robert King, public affairs officer for the Iowa National Guard. "Hopefully, one day we’ll see peace come to that troubled region and we can bring all of our American soldiers home."
This article was based on after action reports supplied by the commanders of the deployed units.