Category: Archive

Fighting 69th is coming home

February 17, 2011

By Staff Reporter

The famed New York National Guard regiment has been on combat duty in Iraq since October of last year.
In more recent months the members of the unit have running convoys along a deadly five mile stretch of road between Baghdad’s “Green Zone” and the city’s airport.
The road is known as “Route Irish.”
According to a report in the Daily News, four of the regiment’s 19 deaths during its tour of duty have occurred on “Route Irish.”
But the last convoy run took place last week.
The regiment, first mustered in 1851 and consisting of newly arrived Irish immigrants, has been best known in recent years for its lead position in the annual New York St. Patrick’s Day Parade.
But the unit’s presence in the parade this past March was confined to the rear guard and veterans.
Originally known as the 69th New York State Militia, the regiment is today formally known as the 1st Battalion, 69th Infantry (Mechanized), New York Army National Guard.
The regiment won its spurs and it reputation primarily in the American Civil War and World War One.
In the aftermath of September 11, the 69th was called to active duty for the first time in years, first in its home city of New York and subsequently in Iraq.
Meanwhile, plans are well advanced for an unveiling of a memorial to the 69th in Ireland before the end of this year.
A fundraising event is being planned for Manhattan next week and will be attended by Taoiseach Bertie Ahern.
The memorial will be in Ballymote, Co. Sligo while the New York fundraiser will take place at the Harbour Lights Restaurant in South Street Seaport on Tuesday evening, Sept. 13.

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