GOVERNOR PATRICK CONTINUES OVERSEAS VISIT WITH MASSACHUSETTS TROOPS
Governor meets with 164th Transportation Battalion of the MANG, other local soldiers on second full day of Department of Defense trip
Joined by Governor Jim Douglas (R-VT), Governor Tim Pawlenty (R-MN), Governor Mike Rounds (R-SD) and Governor Jay Nixon (D-MO), Governor Patrick began the day at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad before flying UH-60 (Blackhawk) to Joint Base Balad. He then toured the CASF, the place where injured service members gather before being flown to the medical center in Landsthul, Germany.
They then flew a C-130 aircraft to Ali Al Saleem Air Base in Kuwait before departing in UH-60s (Blackhawks) to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait with LTG William Webster, Commanding General ARCENT (Army Component of Central Command).
At Camp Arifjan, the governors met with constituent troops, including the 164th Transportation Battalion of the Massachusetts Army National Guard based in Dorchester. In January, Governor Patrick attended the deployment ceremony for 650 National Guard members serving in Iraq and Afghanistan that included the 164th Transportation Battalion. While deployed, the battalion has been responsible for providing heavy equipment transport capabilities for staging and sustainment operations in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and the full range of joint and coalition military operations. They are now also actively involved in helping with the draw down and removal of heavy equipment.
The governors concluded their day with a dinner with ARCENT senior staff at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait.
Governor Patrick departed Washington, D.C. from Andrews Air Force Base on Tuesday following briefings at the Pentagon and a visit with wounded Massachusetts soldiers at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
The governors landed at Ali Al Salem Air Base in Kuwait on Wednesday before changing planes and arriving at Baghdad International Airport. They had lunch with soldiers at Camp Victory and then participated in a call with LTG Kenneth Hunzeker, Deputy Commander US Forces-Iraq and the NATO Training Mission-Iraq. The governors also had dinner with troops at Al Faw Palace.
There are currently over 1,100 Massachusetts National Guard troops deployed in the region. The Governor serves as Commander in Chief of the Massachusetts National Guard, and felt it was important to check on our servicemen and women in harm's way and to be briefed on the progress of their mission.
The Patrick-Murray Administration has made Massachusetts a national leader in veterans' services. The Commonwealth is the only state in the nation to offer local financial assistance - for food, clothing, shelter, housing and medical care - to its veterans and dependants in need. Massachusetts also provides workforce training assistance and one of the highest "Welcome Home" bonuses in the nation to veterans who return from overseas deployments and active duty military service. In addition, the state issues additional bonuses for multiple deployments - an improvement the Governor signed into law on Veterans' Day 2009.
As has been Department of Defense practice on previous trips involving Massachusetts and other governors, for security purposes the Department will not disclose information relative to additional stops on the trip in advance.