First Joint Iowa Army and Air National Guard National Guard Unit Returns from Afghanistan

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Rich Murphy
  • 185th Public Affairs
Hundreds of friends and family members met at Johnston High School in Johnston, Iowa to welcome home the members of the Iowa Air and Army National Guard's 734th Agribusiness Development Team (ADT). Sixty-four members of the 734th returned from a year-long mission in Afghanistan where they provided training and advice to Afghan universities, provincial ministries, and local farmers.

The 734th ADT's primary mission while in Afghanistan was to increase stability and improve opportunities for Afghanistan's re-emerging agri-business sector. Each of the over sixty members brought their own unique expertise from the agribusiness industry.

Five Air Guard members from the 185th Air Refueling Wing in Sioux City, Iowa, played an important role in the team's mission. Capt. Peter Shinn, the Public Affairs representative, said the mission in Afghanistan was both challenging and rewarding. "We learned a lot while we were over there. While it was a challenging mission, we accomplished a lot. But there is still a lot more to be done."

Governor Terry Branstad, Iowa's Governor, spoke at the welcome ceremony. "You have helped to improve the agri-business sector in an emerging democracy and the world is a better place because of your service."

Following their July 2010 sendoff ceremony at Camp Dodge, Iowa, the soldiers and airmen reported to Camp Atterbury, Ind., for training and preparation prior to deploying to Afghanistan. They served in Kunar Province, Afghanistan for the duration of their deployment. During their deployment, the team performed several functions including expanding demonstration farms, implementing veterinary outreach sustainment programs, and launching several entrepreneurial projects for Afghan women.

Maj. Gen. Timothy Orr, Adjutant General of the Iowa National Guard, commented on the success of their mission. "We sent 64 soldiers and airmen into harm's way and 64 came back. That is a pretty good record."

The 734th ADT team transferred authority for their mission in the Kunar Province to Task Force Illinois earlier this month before returning to the U.S. The team spent a week in Fort McCoy, Wis. For demobilization prior to returning to Iowa.

Maj. Gen. Orr also gave thanks to the family members in attendance. He said, "I realize that deployments are difficult. They are not easy and your sacrifice and your dedication to make sure that their lives overseas are better is important."

Following the ceremony, many of the men and women of the 734th were reunited with their family members after nearly a year.

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