The Florida Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 124th Infantry, along with the regiment’s second and third battalions, was mobilized in January 2003 for service in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Following thirty-eight days of post mobilization training at Fort Stewart, GA, the unit deployed to Jordan where it initially served as the security force at Prince Hassan Air Base, a forward operating base for U.S. Special Operations Forces and A-10 aircraft of the United States Air Force.
In late April 2003, the battalion was attached to the 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment and deployed into Iraq by air and ground assault convoy. After consolidation at Al Asad Air Base, Iraq, it moved to Ar Ramadi, the provincial capital of Al Anbar Province, where it was assigned an area of operation consisting of approximately 2,400 square kilometers and more than 350,000 Sunni Iraqi inhabitants.
While there, they provided local security and assisted in the reestablishment of the Iraqi Police and Ministerial Guard forces. The unit also conducted cordon and search operations. During one of these sweeps through the outskirts of Ar Ramadi on August 20, 2003, members of the 1-124 Infantry captured Salem Musa Ijly. Also known as Abu Inas, Ijly was a Jordanian national and member of al-Qaida, who was facilitating weapons smuggling through Iraq into Jordan and maintaining weapons stockpiles in Ar Ramadi. He was also linked to a plot to assassinate Jordanian King Hussein.
During its deployment, the battalion captured 511 enemy combatants; recovered 2,399 small arms, 221 mortar tubes, 4,258 mortar round and 43 RPG launchers; captured, defused or engaged 715 improvised explosive devices; processed 7,422 detainees; and, disbursed more than $1.3 million in aid for repair or construction of numerous buildings, to include two hospitals, 67 schools and 52 mosques.
The 1-124 Infantry received the Valorous Unit Award for extraordinary heroism in operations. Soldiers of the unit were presented 65 Bronze Stars (two with “V” device), 379 Army Commendation Medals (13 with “V” device), and 63 Purple Hearts. Despite serving 291 continuous days in combat operations, the unit brought home every Soldier who deployed with it.
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