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General gives local troops high marks

Lincolnton’s C-Battery of the North Carolina National Guard continues to lead the way in Operation Iraqi Freedom, Major General William Ingram said Monday.
Ingram, adjutant general over North Carolina’s National Guard and Air National Guard, visited Lincolnton Monday to thank the American Legion Post No. 30 for its support of N.C. troops.
C-Battery, part of the 30th Heavy Separate Brigade, was called to active duty Oct. 1, 2003. Troops trained at Fort Bragg and Fort Stewart before being deployed overseas.
Of the 5,000 Army National Guard soldiers in Iraq, 3,800 of them are with the 30th HSB, Ingram said, adding that the group is doing a “stellar job.”
“North Carolina National Guard fought as good of a fight as had ever been fought out there,” Ingram said.
Ingram reminded those gathered at the American Legion that the United States remains a nation at war and the National Guard is heavily involved.
If the country wants to prevent another Sept. 11, he said, forces have to continue fighting the war on terror.
“Iraq is not the war … Iraq is part of the war, but it’s not the whole piece,” Ingram said. “Never before has the National Guard … been more engaged than they are today.”
The time Guard soldiers are spending overseas will help them in the future, Ingram said. The experience they will get in a combat zone in 18 months is equivalent to over half a career.
“Look how well trained and how knowledgeable and how valuable these soldiers are going to be when they return,” he said.
Ingram thanked post Commander Dale Punch and the Legion for the continuing support of troops and their families.
The American Legion Post No. 30 is continuing its drive to gather supplies for C-Battery soldiers.
Residents can drop off items at King’s Office Supply, Griffin Motors, Country Club Market, the UPS store, the National Guard Armory and the Vale Post Office.
Organizers are asking for postage, DVDs, beef jerkey, hard candy, Tootsie Rolls, liquid soap, tooth paste and tooth brushes. Nuts and non-perishable items are also being accepted.
Ingram, who joined the military in 1970, said the Guard is as strong right now as it has ever been. He urges the public to continue to support soldiers’ efforts.
“The community support for our soldiers and airmen has been overwhelming,” Ingram said. “Don’t ever let anyone forget the soldiers serve the country, and whatever we’re asked to do, we do.
“This unit will come back to Lincolnton, N.C., a much stronger, much more professional unit … They’ll come back with a tremendous appreciation for the USA, for the flag and for North Carolina.”by Alice Smith

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