National Guard battalion to patrol airbases

January 10, 2003|By Joe Nawrozki | Joe Nawrozki,SUN STAFF

A Maryland National Guard battalion based in Dundalk is being mobilized for active duty to serve as a security force at military airbases in Maryland.

The 1st Battalion, 175th Infantry Regiment, will begin the formal mobilization process Jan. 30. More than 300 personnel will be activated into federal service for approximately a year as part of Operation Noble Eagle, a homeland defense effort, a Guard spokesman said yesterday.

Members of the unit will be assigned to Andrews Air Force Base near Washington, and to Martin State Airport in Middle River. By taking over security at those two installations, the battalion will free other full-time military units for possible overseas assignment.

"I hold the abilities of the men of the historic 175th in great esteem," said Maj. Gen. James F. Fretterd, the adjutant general for Maryland. "We will be in good hands while they stand watch."

The battalion is composed of companies based in Towson, Pikesville and Dundalk. Members will be able to go home between shifts at the airbases.

"This is kind of a new mission for us so most, if not all, of the soldiers can go home while not on duty," said Rick Roth, a Guard spokesman.

The regiment traces its lineage to the American Revolution, when it covered the retreat of Gen. George Washington's army during the Battle of Long Island. During the Battle of North Point in the War of 1812, the regiment - then flying the colors of the 5th Maryland - blocked an invasion of 9,000 British troops marching on Baltimore.

During World War II, the 175th, as part of the 29th Division, landed at Normandy and pushed to help liberate St. Lo, France. The unit was awarded the presidential Unit Citation for the Normandy campaign.

Members of the present-day battalion will be processed into the active-duty Army at Fort Dix, N.J., where they also will train on the rifle range prior to deployment, said Roth.

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