A host of family, friends and well wishers gathered at the Elks Club Saturday evening in support of Kody Olsen of Perry, a member of the Iowa Army National Guard unit in Boone set to deploy Friday, Sept. 29.
Hugs and handshakes were nonstop for the 2013 graduate of Perry High School as well as his fiancee, Jessica Wilson. Olsen said he joined the National Guard when he was 17.
Olsen is a wheeled-vehicle mechanic in the Guard. He studied automobile mechanics at DMACC and was working at Shottenkirk Chevrolet prior to deployment.
“Kody was a standout student in SkillsUSA at Perry High,” according to Rich Nichols, industrial technology instructor at PHS and a SkillsUSA team leader. Nichols was among the well wishers at the Saturday dinner.
Olsen is part of the 248th Aviation Support Battalion, which is comprised of aircraft maintainers, test pilots and logistical support personnel. A total of about 500 Army National Guard soldiers with detachments from four other states will be mobilized for this mission, but close to 80 percent are from Iowa.
The soldiers will travel to their mobilization station at Fort Hood, Texas, for about two months of additional training before assigned to overseas locations in the U.S. Central Command theater of operation.
Central Command is comprised of 20 nations in the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia, including Afghanistan, Iraq and other hot spots. This will be the largest single-unit deployment of the Iowa National Guard since 2010.
The battalion’s mission is “to provide aviation maintenance and logistical support to a combat aviation brigade, which includes aircraft diagnostics, repair, maintenance, refueling, medical support, supply support activities, ground maintenance and testing,” according to a statement from the Army National Guard.
Units within the ASB have previously mobilized in support of Operation Enduring Freedom from 2001 to 2004, Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2008 to 2009 and Kosovo Force peacekeeping in 2013 and 2014.
Community send-off ceremonies for the 248th Aviation Support Battalion (ASB) will be held around the state Sept. 29. Local officials and Iowa National Guard leadership will participate, and the public is welcome and encouraged to attend the send-off ceremonies.
The Boone ceremonies will include Detachment 1, Headquarters Support Company and Company B, with approximately 180 soldiers to be honored at a 5 p.m. ceremony in the Boone High School gym, 500 Seventh St., Boone, Iowa.
Detachment 1, Company A: approximately 30 soldiers will be honored at a 10 a.m. ceremony in the Iowa National Guard Readiness Center, 5801 Grandview Ave., Muscatine, Iowa.
Headquarters Support Company and Detachment 4, Company B: approximately 75 soldiers will be honored at a 10 a.m. ceremony in the Davenport Army Aviation Support Facility, 9650 N. Harrison St., Davenport, Iowa.
Company A and Detachment 3, Company B: approximately 105 soldiers will be honored at a 2 p.m. ceremony in the University of Northern Iowa West Gym, 2501 Minnesota St., UNI Campus, Cedar Falls, Iowa.