The Ottumwa Courier

833rd Engineer Company

April 29, 2008

Summer homecoming likely for soldiers of the 833rd

An extension of tour is not planned

OTTUMWA — An official with the Iowa National Guard said soldiers with the 833rd Engineer Company should be home early this summer, but cautioned those plans remain fluid.

Lt. Col Greg Hapgood said he was “dumbfounded” by a rumor that the Ottumwa-based company would return as early as this week. While homecoming ceremonies for several Iowa National Guard units are planned for the coming days, the 833rd is not among those returning.

“They’re very much engaged in their mission in Iraq,” Hapgood told the Courier Tuesday.

The unit’s 120 soldiers left Ottumwa in June 2007 for its second tour of duty in Iraq. The first was when the company was part of the 224th Engineer Battalion. Deployments of National Guard units in Iraq have varied considerably over the past several years, with some serving 12 months of active duty while others served nearly two years.

A one-year activation appears likeliest for the 833rd. Hapgood said a return “sometime this summer” is the current schedule. Early summer is most likely.

That could still change. Some units have had tours extended to 15 months or more. An extension for the 833rd, predicted by some family members, is not currently planned.

“We don’t necessarily anticipate that at this time,” Hapgood said.

He cautioned that the situation on the ground will determine much about the 833rd’s departure from Iraq. Hapgood repeatedly said the unit was “handpicked” for its mission to ensure security for U.S. troops. The chances of an extension go up if the security situation deteriorates.

The unit’s return to Ottumwa will involve several stages, including a return to a U.S. base, before the soldiers return to their civilian lives.

Matt Milner can be reached at (641) 683-5359 or via e-mail at

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833rd Engineer Company
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