Giving thanks for the Wisconsin National Guard
The following is Rep. Peter Barca's Thanksgiving message, which has been cross-posted from WisPolitics:
This Thanksgiving I hope we all have many reasons to give thanks. Last week, we Wisconsinites were given another reason to be thankful.
That's when the 30 soldiers from the West Bend-based 2nd Battalion, 135th General Aviation Support Battalion returned home, making them the final members of the Wisconsin National Guard to leave Iraq. Their unit spent nine months providing medevac support in northern Iraq alongside National Guard Soldiers from several other states.
Since the Madison-based 1st Battalion, 147th Command Aviation was ordered to active duty in January 2003, nearly 10,000 Soldiers and Airmen have deployed in support of our mission in Iraq. We applaud these brave Wisconsin women and men for their admirable service – and mourn the nine Soldiers who made the ultimate sacrifice.
One of those Soldiers came from my hometown. Staff Sgt. Robert Basham of Kenosha was killed in a non-combat incident in Qatar in 2007. Sgt. Basham served a full year in Iraq and then volunteered to stay behind when the rest of his unit came back. His dedication and selflessness set an extraordinary example for his fellow Soldiers and for our state as a whole. We remember Sgt. Basham and his family and their sacrifice to protect our freedom.
While we give thanks to all those who served in Iraq, I want to also express our undying appreciation to the more than 350 Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers who are still on active duty around the world. Their commitment and service to our state and country continue to make us proud. We also give thanks to all those who work hard every day to serve our community and make our lives better: teachers, police officers, fire fighters, snow plow drivers, nurses and countless others. It is all these working men and women who make Wisconsin a great place.
So as you sit down for your Thanksgiving meal, I hope you will take the time to recognize all the remarkable individuals who have honorably represented our state and served our country – as well as those who continue to serve.And to the National Guard Soldiers who have just arrived home, I hope you enjoy a wonderful holiday with your loved ones. You've earned it, along with our deep gratitude.