Charlie Company is back home safe and sound.
The Iowa Army National Guard soldiers arrived home Wednesday to a socially-distanced "welcome home" ceremony at the Waterloo Regional Airport.
Families of the soldiers turned out in forced to pay tribute to about a 100 soldiers from the famous 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, Charlie Company.
Due to the pandemic, the public was not allowed at the airport today for the homecoming, but a livestream of the arrival was made available. KWWL crews captured many people standing outside the fence of the airport, though, eager to show their love and support if even from afar.
This time, the Ironman soldiers were gone close to a year, after deploying last May to the Middle East. They were sent to Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates, providing security for the high mobility artillery rocket system in place there.
Wednesday's Waterloo homecoming is one of several set to take place in coming days to welcome back to Iowa more than 500 Ironman soldiers.
150 soldiers will arrive in Waterloo Thursday, while Alpha Company of Dubuque set to return home on April 13. There will also be ceremonies in Cedar Rapids and Davenport.
It's called the 'Ironman Battalion' for good reason, and the reputation of the 'Ironman Battalion' is legendary. This latest mission is the 5th deployment since early 2000 for the 1-133rd soldiers.
The 'Ironman' nickname goes back decades, to World War II, when the battalion spent a record 611 consecutive days involved in combat.
Some 550 soldiers make up the 1-133. Headquartered in Waterloo, the battalion also has armories in Dubuque, Iowa Falls, Charles City and Oelwein.
On the larger scale, the 1-133 is part of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 34th Red Bull Infantry Division. Today, spread mainly across 9-states, including Iowa and Minnesota.
Deployments can be tough on families, and the Family Readiness Group will be there to provide support for the soldiers' families throughout the new deployment.
Early in 2020, the U.S. Army recently announced its latest mobilization orders, which would send the 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment back to the Middle East, for what was expected to be about a one-year security mission in several nations, including Iraq, Afghanistan, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
In recent years, the 1-133 has been deployed 5 other times to Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, Kuwait and Egypt. Those deployments were combinations of combat and peace keeping missions in the Middle East. The most recent was in 2009, and that deployment sent the Iowa soldiers to Afghanistan.
When the 1-133 was activated and deployed in 2005, they first trained at Camp Shelby, Mississippi, and then headed to Iraq. In Iraq, the Iowans served as convoy security soldiers, beginning in May of 2006. They would end up providing escorts to some 62,000 trucks over 4 million miles of Iraqi soil, especially in the Al Anbar province.
That mission was supposed to end in the spring of 2007, but was extended, and the 1-133 soldiers didn't return home until late July, 2007. It was also a costly mission for the 1-133. Two soldiers from Company C, Sgt. Kampha Sourivong of Iowa City and Sgt. 1st Class Scott Nicely of Marshalltown, both died in combat on September 30, 2006 in Iraq.