BAMBERG, Germany — The 1st Battalion, 33rd Field Artillery Regiment
deployed Tuesday to Iraq, becoming one
of the first units within the 1st Infantry Division to fully deploy to Iraq.
About 500 soldiers from the unit deployed in support of the second rotation
of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
During a color-casing ceremony last week, Lt. Col. Ken Boehme said the
battalion was ready for the deployment.
"We couldn't feel as confident in ourselves as we do today if it weren't for
such a great team," he said, referring to the deploying troops, the families
and the rear detachment.
The confidence also came from a lot of training, he said after the ceremony.
"We've done a tremendous amount of training to get ready for this," Boehme
said. "We've trained on everything from individual readiness tasks to convoy
live-fire and urban training. We have trained off and on since August.
"We are walking into a combat situation. This is not like a Bosnia or a
The unit was expected to fly to Kuwait on Wednesday. Upon arrival in Iraq, it
will conduct Reception, Staging, Onward movement and Integration, or RSOI,
operations with the units it will replace, Boehme said.
He said the unit should be fully prepared to take over its future missions by
Command Sgt. Maj. Francisco Aponte said he supervised all of the training for
"Based on how seriously they trained, and by talking to the soldiers, I have
no doubt that 99.9 percent of the soldiers are ready to deploy," Aponte said
after the Feb. 5 ceremony.
However, some soldiers did have to remain behind — but not because they were
Pvt. Matthew Wixon was held from the deployment because of an injury. He
expects to join his fellow soldiers in about a month. He said it will be a long
"I felt ready to deploy, and felt good about deploying," Wixon said. "I feel
bad that I'm not gone already, but I'll get there."
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