National Guard flies City of Taylor flag over Saddam Hussein's former palace

At the end of a Veterans Day homecoming ceremony that welcomed home soldiers from the Taylor-based 777th Military Police Detachment of the Michigan National Guard, a special flag was presented to city officials.

Sgt. 1st Class Ken Schneider -- the second in command of the unit that served in Iraq -- returned to city officials a City of Taylor flag that flew over Saddam Hussein's former "Victory over America" Palace on Camp Slayer in Baghdad. Schneider told Mayor Jeffrey P. Lamarand and City Council Chairwoman Cheryl Burke that the flag also hung in the offices of the building that housed Hussein's cell during his time in captivity.

"As a city, you guys have just been just wonderful," Schneider said. "Not a whole lot of cities have been supportive of us as Taylor has. We were happy to do it."

Schneider also presented a certificate confirming that the flag had flown in Baghdad on September 6, 1010. The certificate reads in part, "The Soldiers of Task Force Bullet (2010) thank you for your support to Coalition Forces during Operation New Dawn. Thank you for your dedication to the mission and the United States military on Victory Base Complex, Baghdad, Iraq. From the 777th MP Detachment."

Mayor Lamarand praised the efforts of the soldiers, who are based at the Taylor Armory at 12450 Beech Daly Road. Taylor residents and city officials are regular participants in deployment and homecoming ceremonies. Just a week earlier, friends and family bid farewell to 158 National guard soldiers from the 1,776th MP Company, also based in Taylor. The ceremony packed the Taylor Sportsplex and saw the soldiers for the last time before they departed to Fort Bliss, Texas, and then to Afghanistan for a 12-month tour of duty.

The November 11 event followed a 12-month tour of duty by 14 soldiers in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. The unit departed Michigan in November 2009 for mission-specific training at Fort Bliss, then headed to Iraq. Soldiers oversaw detainee operations, specifically managing the records and belongings of detainees. The team performed the biometric in-processing of and data entry for every detainee who entered or left the Theater Internment Facility.

Members of the unit received numerous awards for their deployment, including two Army Commendation Medals, seven Joint Commendation Medals, three Army Achievement Medals and six Defense Meritorious Service Medals.

More than 1,700 Michigan National guard soliders and airmen are deployed across the globe in support of the global war on terrorism. National Guard officials said that more than 90 percent of the force is available and ready to respond to a state emergency, including a terrorist event.

Sgt. 1st Class Ken Schneider of the Michigan Army National Guard presents a City of Taylor flag that flew with
the unit in Iraq to Mayor Jeffrey P. Lamarand and City Council Chairwoman Cheryl Burke.

Sgt. 1st Class Schneider also presented a certificate verifying that the city flag flew over the former
"Victory over America" Palace in Baghdad.