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Local unit called to Iraq duty

| January 5, 2009 11:00 PM

The Western News

Soldiers from the Libby unit of the Montana Army National Guard’s 639th Quartermaster Co. were among approximately 120 members ordered this week to active duty.

The 639th is made up of soldiers from the Libby, Kalispell and Havre areas. Guard spokesman Maj. Tim Crowe said they are scheduled to depart this week from Helena to their mobilization station at Fort Lewis, Wash., and will be activated for about a year in support of the global war on terror.

Soldiers from Libby were scheduled to report this past weekend. They have been told that departure for Iraq will be later this month or in February. The total unit numbers about 150 soldiers with approximately 120 scheduled to deploy.

The unit will conduct supply, fueling support and maintenance missions overseas for up to 18,000 soldiers.

It is the second time in recent years that members of the 639th will deploy overseas. Members from the 639th left in December 2003 and were welcomed back in March 2005 after a 15-month deployment to Iraq.

It is the third unit from Montana that has deployed overseas within the past year to fight the war on terror. The Afghan National Army-Embedded Training Team Montana was scheduled to return in December from its 12-month deployment. The 143rd Military Police Company (Law & Order), headquartered out of Belgrade, left last month for their mobilization station at Ft. Dix, N.J. 

The 639th was put on notice early in 2008 about the possibility of deployment. The unit conducted several home-station training exercises, Crowe said, including five weeks of training at Fort Harrison in Helena.