VFW honors historic Wisconsin National Guard unit

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- The Eau Claire-headquartered 128th Infantry Battalion unit and other companies, which are all part of the 32nd "Red Arrow" Infantry Brigade combat team, will deploy to Afghanistan soon.

Nearly 400 soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry, which is headquartered in Eau Claire, will be deploying to Afghanistan in support of operation freedom sentinel.

Nearly 400 soldiers from the 1st Battalion, 128th Infantry, will be deploying to Afghanistan in support of Operation Freedom Sentinel.

On Wednesday, VFW Post 305 in Eau Claire honored the group's long history with a documentary and meal.

Major Brian J. Faltinson of the Wisconsin National Guard talked about the unit’s long history.

"The 128th infantry regiment was formed in 1917 to be part of the 32nd division,” Faltinson said. “The units in Eau Claire and Menomonie and New Richmond in the area, the First Battalion 128th Infantry, carry the lineage of that first unit in the 32nd division.

According to Faltinson, honoring this history with a documentary educates the public and inspires the outgoing unit.

"The first battalion 128th is going to deploy again and we thought we would come up here and show the people of Eau Claire that this is the history of the unit,” he said. “This is the origin of the unit, the foundation of it and how the city of Eau Claire and all the other cities in the area helped create this unit that became a great Wisconsin National Guard unit.”

The 128th has a long and distinguished lineage of service to Wisconsin and the nation dating back to its origins during the civil war as part of the famed “Iron Brigade” made up of three Wisconsin infantry regiments.

Former 128th soldier, Tom Yetter, reflected on his family's involvement with the unit after tragedy struck New York in 2001.

"After 9-11, in 2004, the 128 would again be deployed overseas to Iraq,” Yetter said. “That's where I would be deployed with the 128th infantry, my son and myself both went over at the same time.”

Along with Eau Claire, the group is made up of soldiers headquartered in Menomonie, New Richmond, Rice Lake, Arcadia, Onalaska, River Falls, and Abbotsford.

The unit's upcoming deployment marks the 128th's first to Afghanistan.

An official send-off ceremony for the troops will be held this weekend.