CONTACT: Capt. Joe Trovato | [email protected] | 608-242-3048
MADISON, Wis. — Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch and senior Wisconsin Army National Guard leaders will join family and friends in sending off nearly 400 Wisconsin Army National Guard Soldiers deploying to Afghanistan this winter at a 10 a.m. ceremony Nov. 29 at Lambeau Field’s Atrium in Green Bay.
The Appleton-based 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry, which includes Company A in Waupun and Ripon, Company B in Green Bay, Company C in Fond du Lac, Company D in Marinette, and the Appleton and Clintonville-based Headquarters will deploy in support of the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission, where it will provide security for the 2nd Security Force Assistance Brigade (SFAB), out of Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
The SFAB will provide training and assistance to Afghan National Security Forces, and the 127th Soldiers represent the first National Guard Soldiers to support an SFAB. The 1st SFAB, which is currently in Afghanistan, deployed with an active duty infantry battalion.
The 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry has deployed numerous times since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, including tours in Iraq in 2005-06 and again in 2009-10 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The upcoming deployment marks the unit’s first-ever deployment to Afghanistan, as well as the first for a unit assigned to the Wisconsin Army National Guard’s famed 32nd “Red Arrow” Infantry Brigade Combat Team, opening another significant chapter in the unit’s distinguished service record.
The 127th and the Red Arrow have a long and storied lineage in Wisconsin military lore dating back to the Civil War and its origins as part of the famed Iron Brigade made up of three Wisconsin infantry regiments, one from Indiana, and one from Michigan.
The 127th traces its lineage to the 1st and 2nd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry, which earned battle streamers at places like Bull Run, Antietam, Gettysburg, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville among many others. The same units would later serve in the Spanish-American War before reorganizing at the outset of World War I, when elements of the 1st and 2nd Wisconsin Volunteer Infantry were reorganized as the 127th Infantry within the 32nd Division.
This year marks the centennial of the 32nd Division, which earned its “Red Arrow” moniker after it pierced every enemy line it encountered in Europe during World War I, including the vaunted Hindenburg Line. The 127th played a starring role in the 32nd’s four major campaigns in World War I and again during World War II, when the 32nd fought in brutal campaigns through the jungles of the Pacific Theater in New Guinea and the Philippines, where it earned the distinction of serving more days in combat – 654 – than any other American division in the war.
In the early 1960s, the 127th and the 32nd Division again mobilized to active duty at the height of the Berlin Crisis before reorganizing into a brigade in 1967. Since that time, the 127th and the rest of the Red Arrow have played pivotal roles in the Global War on Terror and on numerous mobilizations in times of emergency here at home, including in 2017 when the battalion deployed to Florida to assist civil authorities with security, traffic control and humanitarian assistance in the wake of Hurricane Irma.
The Wisconsin National Guard continues to maintain a high operational tempo with worldwide deployments in support of its federal mission as the primary combat reserve of the Army and Air Force. More than 350 Soldiers from the Milwaukee-based 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery deployed to the Middle East this summer and more than 25 Soldiers from the 157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade’s Military Engagement Team deployed to the Middle East in March. Meanwhile, a team of Soldiers from the 112th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment deployed to U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, in March to provide public affairs support there.
Nearly 30 Soldiers from the West Bend-based 248th General Aviation Support Battalion returned from a deployment to the Middle East in September. Wisconsin Army National Guard aviators from Detachment 5, 641st Aviation returned from Afghanistan this summer, and approximately 85 Soldiers with 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation returned from a nine-month deployment to the Middle East in January. Another 35 Soldiers from West Bend’s Company C, 1st Battalion, 168th Aviation returned from a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan in November 2017.
Last fall, approximately 270 Airmen from the 115th Fighter Wing returned to Madison from a deployment to Korea, and more than 100 Airmen from the 128th Air Control Squadron at Volk Field returned from Southwest Asia. Airmen from the 128th Air Refueling Wing in Milwaukee also recently completed a series of worldwide deployments.
The Wisconsin National Guard simultaneously stands ready to complete its state mission of assisting civil authorities during times of emergency as the state’s first military responder. Black Hawk medevac crews deployed to North Carolina to assist civil authorities there in the wake of Hurricane Florence this fall, and hundreds of Guardsmen assisted with sandbagging efforts after torrential rains soaked southern Wisconsin.