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1133rd Transportation Company, Iowa National Guard


Posted By: Sharon R Becker (email)
Date: 11/13/2016 at 16:49:45

The Globe-Gazette
Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
April 13, 2013

A brief history of the 1133rd during the Iraq War
by Deb Nicklay

It was 10 years ago this past week that the Iowa Army National Guard’s 1133rd Transportation Co., based in Mason City, headed into Kuwait — its official entry into the Iraq War.

The 160 soldiers were mobilized in January 2003 and entered the theater of operations on April 10. Its deployment was for one year and the troops returned home in April 2004. About 100 vehicles were transported to the theater of operations, whose job was to carry supplies and equipment in support of the 3rd Corps Support Command.

A smaller contingent of 25 members was deployed in August 2004 and returned in October 2005, and were attached to a fellow transportation company, the 2168th Co., based in Sheldon.

A second, larger deployment happened in 2008, when 115 in the company left, returning in October 2009. The 1133rd was combined with the 1168th Transportation Co., based in Red Oak, to form the 3368th Transportation Co. The “super company” was responsible for the shipment of supplies along routes in Kuwait and Iraq.

The deployments were not without tragedy. In February 2004, Spc. Josh Knowles died in a mortar attack on his truck, which also injured fellow guardsman Sgt. Peter Bieber.

Eleven members of the 1133rd were injured in a mortar attack at Logistical Base Seitz, near Baghdad, in January 2004, during the first deployment.

Injured were Spc. Chad Hayes of Austin, Minn.; Spc. Michael Dodge of Ames; Sgt. Jon Sliger of Mason City; Staff Sgt. Dwight Jorgensen, St. Ansgar; Staff Sgt. Roger Solberg, Boyden; Spc. Brian Chisholm, Forest City; Spc. William Egbert, Mason City; Spc. Paul Schutz, Puyallup, Wash.; Spc. Levi Anderson, Terril; Spc. David Mulder, LeMars; and Spc. Cory Popejoy, Williamsburg.

Spc. Dustin Colby died when the smaller contingent of the 1133rd left in August 2004. He lost control of his vehicle, which rolled into a ditch, just outside of Camp Dodge in Johnston.

* * * *

The Globe-Gazette
Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
April 13, 2013

1133rd: Photo captured family's wartime separation
by Kristin Buehner

VALLEY CITY, N.D. — Sgt. Rudy Ask, now of Valley City, N.D., and his 2-year-old daughter Brooke gained attention in April 2003 in an award-winning photo taken the day Rudy was being deployed to Iraq with the Iowa Army National Guard’s 1133rd Transportation Co.

Globe Gazette photographer Sarah Schutt caught Brooke holding onto her father as he stood in formation with his comrades, his arms behind his back.

“I definitely remember that day,” Ask, now 35, said. “Steph, my wife, intentionally let Brooke go.”

Brooke, now 12, is the oldest of three daughters. Her sisters are Taylor, 8, and Ava, 3.

“Ava looks just like Brooke,” Ask said.

The thing that stood out in his mind about the day his company was deployed was the fact that everyone from the unit was there, he said.

“Everybody stood up and did what they signed up to do. It made me really proud.”

A 1996 graduate of St. Ansgar High School, Ask was a recent graduate of Iowa State University when his unit was activated. He and his family were living in Donahue at that time.

Ask, an agricultural engineer, was working as an application engineer for a company that put robot weld cells together. His enlistment in the Guard ended soon after he returned from Iraq and he was anxious to return to civilian life, he said.

He and his wife made the decision to move to North Dakota to be closer to her family. Ask found a job with John Deere in Valley City as a weld engineer supervisor.

He and his family live on an acreage.

Recalling his days in Iraq, Ask said some days seemed like they’d never end, while others went by “in a flash.” He feels fortunate to have seen so much of the country, areas that most people from outside Iraq don’t get to see.

“It was an experience I was glad to have had, but one I’m glad to have behind me.”

Because he no longer lives in North Iowa, Ask doesn’t keep in touch much with the guys from the transportation unit, although he would like to.

“Even though it’s been 10 years we can’t forget that we all didn’t make it back,” he said, referring to Spc. Joshua Knowles of Sheffield. “That’s still always in the back of your mind.”

* * * *

The Globe-Gazette
Mason City, Cerro Gordo County, Iowa
April 14, 2013

Globe Gazette Editorial: Forever grateful to and proud of the 1133rd

Looking back 10 years, their feats almost seem superhuman to those of us who never left the comfort of our homes in Iowa.

Spending more than a year away from their loved ones, members of the 1133rd Transportation Co. based in Mason City eventually hauled supplies more than 2 million miles during the war in Iraq, often in sweltering, torturous heat under enemy fire or the suspicion that danger was around every corner.

They experienced tragedy when one member of their unit was killed and others injured.

And when their tour was finally up, they returned home to heroes’ welcomes.

Because to us, their family and friends, and fellow Iowans, they were heroes for all they had endured.

In today’s Globe Gazette, we look at stories surrounding some of those members of the 1133rd and their reflections on their time at war.

Peter Bieber had a brush with death when a mortar hit the truck he was in with Josh Knowles of Sheffield. Bieber was wounded; Knowles was killed. Today, Bieber shares his poignant memories of that horrific day and other episodes of his service in Iraq.

“I’ll always be proud of what we did,” he said.

There is an incredible story about a letter written by John Sanchez, now 57, upon his departure from the United States. He wrote it, says brother Phil of Mason City, “in case he didn’t come back.” John did return safely, but the letter remained in Phil’s custody and wasn’t opened until this week. You can only imagine the emotions it evoked.

The reading “was powerful; it was visceral,” Phil said.

Steve Nelson, a career soldier and first sergeant at the time, remembers the responsibility he felt of keeping everybody safe.

“As a first sergeant, you’re like a mother and father to the troops. Families entrust their loved ones to you,” he said.

That’s why, for him, the death of Knowles was especially hard to take.

There are many other stories from every soldier who served our country in that conflict. Many people question its purpose and the wisdom of sending our troops to fight and die there.

But no one ever questioned the dedication and ability of the soldiers of the 1133rd Transportation Co. from Mason City, Iowa.

Halfway around the world, they proved their extraordinary skills under the most trying of conditions. Some members returned again and yet again, distinguishing themselves each time.

Capt. Dwayne Eden’s words no doubt speak for those he served alongside.

“We did everything we were asked to do,” he said. “I would say we were probably the best transportation company in the theater at that time.”

As we wrote upon their homecoming in 2004, we are proud and grateful for their efforts. We will not — dare not — forget their outstanding contributions.

Photograph courtesy of Globe-Gazette
Transcriptions by Sharon R. Becker, November of 2016


Cerro Gordo Documents maintained by Sharon R. Becker.
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