Illinois National Guard

8 Jan 2013
Public Affairs Office
Freedom Salute Ceremony Planned For Two Sparta Units

 Jan. 12 ceremony recognizes two Sparta Army National Guard units for recent Afghanistan deployments


SPARTA– Approximately 150 Illinois Army National Guard Soldiers with the 661st Engineer Company and seven Soldiers with the 662nd Engineer Fire Fighting Detachment will be recognized Jan. 12 by the National Guard Bureau Freedom Salute Campaign for their sacrifice and service in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. The ceremony will be at 11 a.m. at the Sparta National Guard Armory, 1803 N. Hillcrest Drive in Sparta.

The 661st was mobilized in September 2011 and returned home Sept. 26, 2012.  The 662nd was mobilized in February 2012 and arrived home Oct. 10, 2012.   

The 661st worked in three different locations in Afghanistan. Soldiers conducted horizontal engineer missions to include building and repairing roads, as well as site preparation for future buildings.  They also conducted mine clearance operations and assisted in the construction of helicopter landing zones, entry control points, ammunition supply points and security points at several bases. 

            The unit completed 20 construction projects.  They also provided mine clearance support for more than 425,000 square meters and repaired 14 craters along Afghan highways.  661st Soldiers trained more than 100 Afghan National Army Soldiers on various vertical, horizontal and maintenance tasks and assisted in the recovery of a crashed C-17 airplane.

The 662nd provided fire department emergency response services for Forward Operating Base (FOB) Wolverine and the 25th Combat Aviation Brigade.  The mission included fire prevention and protection, structural and aircraft firefighting, rescue and emergency medical and decontamination of hazardous areas.

The 662nd responded to more than 30 calls during its deployment.  The team also conducted fire inspections and fire drills throughout the FOB. Soldiers also taught fire extinguisher training to workers of the aircraft refueling point. 

The Freedom Salute Campaign is one of the largest Army National Guard recognition endeavors in history.  It is designed to publicly acknowledge Army National Guard Soldiers and those who supported them while deployed.

News media attending the event should arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the ceremony.    For more information call the Public Affairs Office at 217-761-3569.

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