New medical company arrives
The 134th Medical Company that was in Washington for several decades has moved to Camp Dodge in Des Moines. In its place has arrived the 294th Medical Company, previously of Camp Dodge. Sfc. Rob Radosevich, the Iowa National Guard Readiness NCO in Washington, said most members of the 134th Medical Company will switch to the 294th Medical Company.
Radosevich said the Iowa National Guard switched the two medical companies primarily because the 134th Medical Company lost its mess section, the chefs. The 134th did not share facilities with any other company. It was the only company that used the Iowa National Guard Readiness Center for drills. Consequently, when it needed a meal, the meal had to be catered.
The Iowa National Guard sought to save money by reducing catered meals, and thus moved the 134th to Camp Dodge where it could share dining facilities with other companies. The 294th that is replacing the 134th in Washington will have a mess section, which will get to use the readiness center’s brand new kitchen.
“The 294th is a slightly larger company, with a full mess section,” Radosevich said. “It stood to reason that it would be a better fit for this building than the 134th. It’s less expensive to cook a meal than it have it catered to you.”
The 294th has 78 members, slightly more than the 134th, which had between 65-70 members when it moved to Camp Dodge. The 134th once had over 100 people.
The 294th and 134th switched places on Nov. 1. The first drill the 294th conducted in Washington was a little over a week ago, which was shortly after the kitchen had been completed. Radosevich said the members of the 294th were impressed with Washington’s facilities, which had just undergone a major remodeling in the past year.
Radosevich said that the Iowa National Guard wanted to replace the 134th with another medical company to minimize the disruption to the members of the 134th who live in the area. Rather than have to move to another city or be retrained, most members of the 134th have simply joined the 294th.
Some members of the 294th have remained with it even after its move to Washington.
“The command section of 294th is coming here from Camp Dodge,” Radosevich said. “We’ll have some people come here who work in X-rays, mental health, dental and radiology, who were not previously a part of the 134th.”
Radosevich said the people in those positions were given the option of doing drills in Washington or staying at Camp Dodge and learning a new skill. He said the majority of those people have decided to drill in Washington. Drills are conducted once a month.
The full-time staff at the readiness center in Washington, including Radosevich, have remained the same after the arrival of the 294th.
The 134th has been in Washington since the early 1960s, Radosevich said. He said many units in southeast Iowa converted from the 113th Cavalry into other companies said as combat engineers.
The 134th has always been dedicated to ground ambulance services. The company had medics and anyone who supported them.
“Its basic mission never changed over the years,” he said.
The 294th is charged with providing care for the sick and injured on the scene and evacuating them for further care.
One of the few things about the 134th that changed while it was in Washington was the location of its members. In its early days, the members of the unit were predominantly Washington County residents. Radosevich said that society has since become more mobile, and that the unit has been adding people from outside the county from cities such as Iowa City, Cedar Rapids and Davenport.
“Driving 50, 60 or even 100 miles doesn’t bother people today,” Radosevich said.
The 294th, just like the 134th, has a larger percentage of women than most other National Guard units. Radosevich said that both medical companies are about 30 percent female. To accommodate the growing number of women in the National Guard, the female bathroom at the readiness center quadrupled in size when it was remodeled this year.