Fort Bragg Soldiers Prepare for Bosnia
Posted August 11, 1998 7:00 a.m. EDT
FAYETTEVILLE — A group of Fort Bragg soldiers is preparing to head to Bosnia. More than 200 members of the 229th Aviation Battalion will be going to the war-torn country later this month. Their mission is to keep the peace, but their preparations include live-fire.
Fort Bragg helicopter pilots are going up in their Apaches for the last time Tuesday, at least on U.S. soil. In just a few weeks the pilots and other soldiers will be in Bosnia, where they'll be providing the main fire power for the U.S. peace keeping mission.
"We're trained. We're ready to go, and the missions we can plan to execute over there can be anywhere from attack missions to re-con and surveillance missions all the way down to show of force missions," Lt. Col. Kirt Hardy said.
Thousands of U.S. troops have been stationed in Bosnia nearly three years since the war there ended. They're helping maintain the fragile peace and also teaching Bosnia how to make it permanent. The soldiers have spent the last several months preparing for their Bosnia mission.
"There's a lot of anticipation about where I am going and what we're going to be doing," Sgt. Tracy Wallace said. "But we've been training real hard, and I think we're ready to go."
The soldiers are taking at least 20 helicopters with them. They'll relieve a German unit. The troops have been told they'll be in Bosnia for six to eight months.
"I'm hoping my family is well taken care of when I'm gone," said Spc. Paula Howell. "Of course I'm nervous, but it's your job. I can't say I'm worried about that. It's what you prepare to do. It's what you came in for."
The United States originally planned to pull out of Bosnia this past June. Last month, Congress approved extra funding to extend the peace-keeping mission indefinitely.