Utah troops part of rotation

Many cycle through Fort Carson, Colo.

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 25 2004 12:00 a.m. MST

Members of the Utah National Guard's 116th Engineer Company train at Fort Carson before leaving for the Middle East. Many soldiers will also stop in Fort Carson en route home after their tour of duty.

Photo, 1st Lt. Miller Of The 116th.

Enlarge photo»

About 100,000 soldiers are deploying to the Middle East in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the global war on terrorism.

It is, Maj. Kerrie Hurd quotes the U.S. Department of Defense, "the largest troop rotation since World War II."

Hurd is a public affairs officer at Fort Carson, Colo., where many of the Utah soldiers train before going overseas — and where they stop first before coming home.

In the military's term, the soldiers go through "out-processing" at Fort Carson when they get back to the United States.

Among the thousands of troops moving toward or from the Middle East recently were members of five units of the Utah National Guard.

On their way overseas are about 500 members of the Guard's 115th Engineer Group, 116th Engineer Company, 211th Aviation Battalion and 141st Military Intelligence Battalion.

Returning are 87 members of the 141st who have been working in the Middle East for about a year. The unit rotates soldiers in and out of the region as needed.

Lt. Miller of the 116th Engineer Company, based in Spanish Fork, told the Deseret Morning News he is already in Iraq as part of an advance party for his unit. A large portion of the company should be joining him soon. For security reasons, Miller asked that his first name not be printed.

Kuwait was miserably dusty, he wrote in an e-mail.

"I'm sure the rest of the unit is anxious to get out of Kuwait. They are stuck at a large staging camp that has room for many more soldiers," he wrote.

And many more will be coming in the next few weeks, he predicted.

"Between Kuwait and Colorado, I've lost about 16 pounds," added Miller.

Some soldiers needed to lose weight, he said.

"Living conditions are tough in Kuwait, but others have endured tougher for longer," he said. "All our drinking water there is bottled. Most everybody can shower daily if your duty permits, however, the water invariably will run out on somebody."

Then that person must wait for contractors to refill the water tanks.

It is much less dusty in Iraq, he said.

"Believe it or not, it's nice to be in Iraq," Miller said.

An air raid siren went off three times recently at the camp where he is staying.

"If it wasn't for that I wouldn't know anything was actually happening," he said.

"I did hear a 50 cal (50-caliber machine gun) go off briefly this morning, but for all I know it could have been a test fire. Last night they say we got mortared, and again this afternoon."


E-mail: bau@desnews.com

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