CAPE GIRARDEAU -- Soldiers in the Cape Girardeau-based 1140th Engineer Battalion have received mobilization orders to support the war in Iraq and will report to several armories across Southeast Missouri on Jan. 3.
The Missouri National Guard made the announcement Monday, just days after ordering the soldiers to Perryville on Saturday and Sunday for "belt-line inspections" in case they were called up. The 1140th was put on alert Nov. 6. The unit has received orders for its soldiers for federal active duty for up to 18 months. After reporting to their armories, the soldiers will move to their mobilization station at Fort Riley, Kan.
The Guard did not say where the troops ultimately will serve in support of Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and Noble Eagle.
The soldiers still will meet in Perryville over the weekend, where they will receive last-minute training and fill out paperwork to be sure everything is in order for their families.
"That's still got to be on," said Charles Hutchings, a spokesman for the 1140th. "Now it's more important than ever. They still have got to do that."
The battalion has detachments in Farmington, Fredericktown, Perryville, Jackson, Sikeston, Portageville, Charleston and Caruthersville, with 500 troops under the command of Lt. Col. John Akers and Command Sgt. Maj. Tommy Brown. The unit's last mission was to help soldiers bound for Iraq train by participating in war games in the Mojave Desert.
"We once again express our pride and gratitude to these outstanding Missourians who are being called for active duty," said Gov. Bob Holden in a released statement. "They are in our thoughts and prayers and we look forward to their safe return."
The 1140th Engineer Battalion can trace its history back to 1898 when it was organized as the 6th Infantry. The unit has seen many changes and in 1968 it was reorganized again causing the entire unit to have to be retrained as engineers.