November 6, 2003 - Posted at 5:02 p.m. CDT
CAMP ROBINSON, AR - 100 soldiers from the Jonesboro-based Company A of the 875th Engineers Battalion of the Arkansas Army National Guard are scheduled to be welcomed home in a ceremony Friday morning at their armory at Arkansas State University.
Company A was federally activated in March to support Operation Enduring Freedom. After two months of training, the unit was certified by the U.S. Army and deemed ready for combat, but when major combat operations ended in Iraq sooner than expected, the company's mission changed to support homeland defense through Operation Noble Eagle. As a result, the unit was deployed to the Umatilla Chemical Depot in Hermiston, Oregon.
Alpha Company's mission in northeast Oregon was to enhance security at the Depot, which contains roughly 3,700 tons, or twelve percent, of the U.S.'s chemical weapons stockpile.
"I feel very honored, and very proud, to have commanded such an elite group of soldiers," said Captain Michael C. Henderson, who led the unit during its mission. "I can tell you that they performed their task well, but that we're all glad to be returning home."
In the wake of an alert order received earlier Thursday, Major General Don Morrow, adjutant general of Arkansas, said he was especially glad to be bringing some of the troops back home. "We are extremely happy to have Company A returning," said Morrow. "I know they were ready and able to take on a combat mission, but when their role changed, they took on their new mission with equal enthusiasm. They can be proud of what they've done."