Delavan guardsman returns from Iraq

(Published Aug. 11, 2006, 11:29 a.m.)

Delavan native Bill Shimer recently completed his tour of duty in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Sgt.Maj. Shimer was deployed in June 2005 with 32nd Infantry Brigade,

headquartered at Camp Douglas. The approximately 80 brigade soldiers spent several weeks completing mobilization training at Fort Hood, Texas, and Fort Polk, La., before reporting to their final duty assignment in Southwest Asia where Shimer was in charge of logistics and maintenance for the 377th Theater Support Command.

Shimer is a 1966 graduate of Williams Bay High School and retired from the Walworth County highway department. He and his wife Jan reside in Delevan.

Nearly 2,600 Wisconsin National Guard members remain deployed in support of Operation Iraqi or Enduring Freedom serving their nation in the Global War on Terrorism.

On Thursday, 240 airmen from Air National Guard's Madison-based 115th Fighter Wing returned home from voluntary 50- to 120-day tours of duty in Iraq. The 115th Fighter Wing is based at Dane County Regional Airport - Truax Field, Madison.

Most of the returning unit members volunteered to serve for 50 days of a regularly scheduled 120-day Aerospace Expeditionary Force (AEF) rotation, as Air National Guard units often cover four-month rotations with personnel and equipment from several similar units.

Other personnel returning Friday served longer overseas tours as part of the same mission.

Air National Guard deployments are usually organized in AEF cycles, which schedule Air Guard units for missions of up to 120 days every 20 months.

The rotations do not usually require an entire unit, so the Air Guard is able to support these assigned missions with volunteers.

Some members of the 115th Fighter Wing have been deployed overseas as many as seven times in the past 10 years. During this deployment, the 115th Fighter Wing supported ground forces in Iraq with close air support and other combat and combat support capabilities directed by the combatant commander.

Deployed personnel represented operations, logistics and aircraft maintenance and include F-16 pilots and crew chiefs, intelligence, life support, supply, munitions, avionics, engine, hydraulics and other unit specialties.

Even though more than 80 percent of the Wisconsin National Guard's soldiers and airmen have served on active duty since Sept. 11, 2001, most have completed their missions and more than 6,800 are currently available to provide civil support here in Wisconsin, if required.

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