Three local National Guardsmen - Pfcs. Bradley Holbrook and Kenneth Shrock of Independence and Matthew Hundall of Dallas - are among a group of Willamette Valley soldiers deployed this week to Iraq with the 234th Engineer Company.
The 234th is based at Camp Rilea in Warrenton but has been training since July in Mississippi for duties in convoy security.
The 180-member unit is commanded by Maj. Jeff Brown of Keizer and includes infantry platoons, mechanics, technical engineers and support personnel. It will be on deployment until August 2008.
It has some female soldiers, including Lt. Sarah Thompson of Salem, Pfc. Shannon Scott of Aumsville and Pfc. Danielle Poindexter of Albany. Poindexter will serve as a machine gunner in a Humvee turret.
Poindexter, who volunteered for this deployment, is ordinarily a supply soldier but volunteered to train this summer for her new role. "When I first joined the Army I never imagined myself being behind a gunner's turret," she said.
The 234th will provide protection, clear IEDs, make repairs and supply combat medical aid when necessary. "We've trained on all the building blocks to make our unit ready ... for the environment we will face," Brown said.