296th leaves for active duty this weekend

Published 6:00 am Wednesday, January 15, 2003

Approximately 200 men and women assigned to the 296th ArmyReserve unit here will be departing Saturday to join 25 soldiersfrom the unit who deployed in November.

“The main body is going to go link up with the detachment,” saidCapt. Howard Taylor, commanding officer of the 296th TransportationCompany.

The unit will be hosting departure ceremonies at 5 p.m. Saturdayat the armory, Taylor said, and leaving about an hour after theceremonies are complete.

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Taylor said the unit will first deploy to their mobilizationbase at Fort Stewart, Ga., before being sent overseas as part ofOperation Enduring Freedom, the war on terrorism.

“Our stay at Fort Stewart can be from three days to three tofour weeks, depending on how long before they need us at our finaldestination,” he said.

Taylor said he could not divulge the unit’s final destination,but added that it was in the “Middle East.”

When the 25-member detachment departed in November, however, acolonel assigned to group command said the detachment would besupporting troops in Kuwait attached to the U.S. Central Command,which covers Southwest Asia.

The 296th provides transportation support for movement ofmilitary cargo, primarily bulk petroleum.

Taylor also could not say how long the unit would be deployed,although he said the orders stated one year.

“We can be gone for a year, maybe two, depending on themission,” he said.

The 31st Rear Operations Center of Jackson is filling anyvacancies to bring the unit up to full strength, Taylor said, bydrawing from other similar units who are understrength.

Forty-five members of the 31st ROC deployed earlier this monthto Fort Stewart, but were also expected to be redeployed to theMiddle East. Other Mississippi units that have deployed to theregion in the last six months include 16 soldiers of the SpecialOperations Detachment of Jackson.

Seventeen members of the 220th Finance Detachment deployed inJuly for a year in Bosnia, supporting peacekeeping operationsthere. They are scheduled to return this spring.

“As these mobilizations and departures occur, it’s difficult todetermine which units may be called,” said Lt. Col. Tim Powell,public relations officer for the Mississippi National Guard. “Itjust depends on the needs of the Army. That’s something we can’tanticipate.”

He added, however, that those plans, so far, do not includeBrookhaven’s 155th Infantry Company, Detachment 2.

“We’ve received no indications whatsoever that the 155th will beinvolved, but that can change,” Powell said.

The 296th was commended for its performance after returning fromduty in Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm on April20, 1991, and reverting back to reserve status.