WATERLOO — One of Waterloo’s own was named leader of the Iowa Army National Guard’s Ironman Battalion.

Garrett Gingrich, 39, National Guard lieutenant colonel and Waterloo firefighter, took command of the Waterloo-headquartered National Guard 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry regiment Friday during a change-of-command ceremony in Des Moines.

“I’m really excited for the opportunity, having served here for 14 years of my career,” Gingrich said. “I’m excited to make an impact and help soldiers.”

A Waterloo native, Gingrich first joined the National Guard as a private and medic in 1998.

His day job as a Waterloo firefighter and paramedic has worked well with his career as a soldier, he said. “To be able to able to work in Waterloo where I live and where I work, it makes it a lot easier.”

Gingrich said the Waterloo Fire Department will allow him time off work for duty.

“Whenever I need to do work I can just buzz out here,” he said.

A lot of the soldiers in the battalion are from all over Northeast Iowa.

Gingrich looks forward to mentoring and guiding soldiers in his command.

“I’ve had a lot of good guys before me that have helped me get where I am,” Gingrich said. “A lot of it is giving back to them.”

As a battalion commander, Gingrich will manage the operation process and training of the battalion.

The Ironman Battalion has a long history of service, dating back to the Civil War.

“During World War II the 34th Infantry Division, or the Red Bulls, they served longer consecutively than any other unit in combat in WWII,” Gingrich said. “That’s how the battalion got the name Ironman.”

The Ironman Battalion has been deployed to Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq and most recently to Afghanistan from 2010-11.

While in command Gingrich wants to reach young prospective soldiers and keep the battalion involved with the Cedar Valley community.

“This is an option for a lot of kids that don’t know if they want to go directly to college,” Gingrich said. “If there’s young men and women that are out there that want to try to do something bigger than themselves and want to serve their country, then this is a great option. It’s a great way to give back and serve your country.”

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