Peoria-based Army National Guard unit returns from Afghanistan

About 40 Soldiers arrived home shortly after Independence Day

PEORIA, IL (07/20/2018) (readMedia)-- Approximately 40 Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers who served in Afghanistan returned home during the past two weeks.

Company B, 2nd Battalion, 238th Aviation Regiment based in Peoria, Illinois, was mobilized in August 2017 and deployed to two areas of Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom's Sentinel. The Soldiers were split between Bagram Airfield and Kandahar Airfield.

The Illinois Soldiers were augmented by more than 40 Soldiers from the South Carolina Army National Guard and more than a dozen active duty Army Soldiers, all under the command of Maj. Andrew Hager of Hanna City, Illinois.

The 238th was also responsible for air-assault missions, passenger movement, VIP transport, and aerial resupply. Overall, they moved more than 17,000 passengers and two million pounds of cargo.

"We were the most experienced aviation unit in theater during the most recent rotation," Hager said. "Drawing on deployment experience from three previous combat rotations, the air crews and mechanics of the company executed far more challenging missions on this rotation than compared with previous deployments. The company did this, on time, every time, with zero missions dropped due to maintenance."

Together, the two teams logged more than 2,300 combat flight hours.

"This is an outstanding testament to the skills and amazing work ethic of the company," Hager said. "It should come as no surprise that we were requested specifically to handle numerous high profile missions."

The unit conducted specialized personnel recovery with Air Force Para-Rescue in a first-of-its-kind joint mission. They flew more than 75 air assaults with multiple U.S. and coalition partners, conducted aerial resupply to units isolated from any means of ground resupply, and were specifically requested to fly the commander of U.S. Forces-Afghanistan to the opening of the TAPI Pipeline, also known as the Trans-Afghanistan Pipeline. The pipeline will transport natural gas from the Galkynysh Gas Field in Turkmenistan through Afghanistan into Pakistan and then to India.

Soldiers from the 238th received numerous awards including two Bronze Stars, 60 Air Medals, eight Army Commendation Medals, and four Army Achievement Medals.

There was no official welcome home ceremony for the unit, with Soldiers flying to the airport closest to their hometown. The 238th will have a formal ceremony to recognize the Soldiers and families in the fall.

For more information call the Illinois National Guard Public Affairs Office at 217-761-3569.