FORT KNOX, Ky. - More than a dozen members of the 533rd Engineer Detachment, Forward Engineer Support Team - Main returned June 6 through June 28 after a yearlong deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

The 533rd FEST-M deployed in June 2009 to support civil engineering operations for the primary directorate for planning, executing and transferring facilities missions in support of the Iraqi Security Forces.

"As the United States moves from a primarily military mission to a civilian, diplomatic and economic mission in Iraq, the demand for specialized capabilities such as the ones found in the 533rd increases," said Col. Jerome Stolinski, FEST-M commander. "They filled critical engineering capability gaps and assisted in keeping the overall mission in Iraq on target. We are proud of their service and are happy to have them home safe and sound."

Shaking off the desert dust, team members turned their thoughts toward family, friends and enjoying time at home.

"I know it sounds funny but I just can't wait to do normal things like cook, clean and do my own laundry," said Capt. Kari R. Haravitch, assistant plans and operations officer.

With the return of the deployed members, the unit can now focus on preparing for future missions.

"While the team was deployed, we focused on recruiting and training the civilian staff in the unit," said Lt. Col. Douglas Hoenig, executive officer, 533rd FEST-M. "We've trained on Army tactics, standards and procedures and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers reachback operations and equipment. Their individual training is on track and now we can enter the next phase of training as a complete unit."

In August, the unit begins collective training with the Soldiers in the lead. Hoenig says the goal is simple - to become a cohesive team ready and able to deploy on short notice to support operations across the globe.

"That's why this unit exists," said Hoenig. "To bring advanced engineering capabilities in support of military and disaster relief operations wherever and whenever we are needed."

Page last updated Tue July 20th, 2010 at 14:51