BOISE – Humvees and trucks loaded with soldiers and their sleeping cots, food, water, and other gear are headed for Louisiana this week, part of a hurricane relief mission by the Idaho National Guard.
About 250 National Guard members left Boise on Wednesday, and 150 more were due to fly out on military transport planes today, said Idaho Air National Guard Lt. Tony Vincelli.
Idaho sent the troops in response to a request Friday from Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco to help in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita, state officials said.
“Every single state was asked at the same time we were,” said Idaho National Guard spokeswoman Lt. Col. Stephanie Dowling.
Idaho officials notified the troops over the weekend that they would be sent to Louisiana.
The soldiers traveling by road were organized into five convoys of about 20 vehicles, mainly Humvees, that will travel one hour apart as they make their four-day journey to Alexandria, La. They will spend the night in National Guard armories and private accommodations, said Vincelli. They will meet at Camp Beauregard in Alexandria to receive their work assignments.
“We’ve got firefighters, vehicle maintenance people, radio and communication specialists – a lot of different skill sets we bring down there,” Vincelli said. The soldiers might also provide security, he said. The troops are expected to stay in the Gulf Coast area for about 30 days, Vincelli said.
Idaho has 1,700 National Guard 116th Brigade combat team members in Iraq. They are expected to be home by late December. Another 50 Air National Guard members are overseas, not necessarily in Iraq, Dowling said. With the 400 others in the Gulf Coast region, Idaho will still have 2,000 Guard members at home.
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