• Soldiers of the 841st Engineer Battalion's headquarters and forward support companies lead by (L-R) 1st Lt. Santos Ortiz and 1st Sgt. Stephon McAffee, headquarters company, Capt. Geoffery Givens and 1st Sgt. Corey Thompson, Forward Support Company. Seated, (L-R) Florida Governor Rick Scott, 841st Engineer Battalion commander Lt. Col. William Schaper, 926th Engineer Brigade commander Col. Lew Irwin and Miami Dade College president Dr. Jose A. Vicente during a departure ceremony at Miami Dade College, Feb. 4, 2012. The two companies will deploy to Afghanistan as part of Task Force Hurricane to provide command and control of combat and construction missions. The task force will also collaborate with the Afghan National Army in Regional Command North to improve security, development, and governance of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Phillip Eugene, 412th TEC Public Affairs)

    Task Force Hurricane in the forecast for northern Afghanistan

    Soldiers of the 841st Engineer Battalion's headquarters and forward support companies lead by (L-R) 1st Lt. Santos Ortiz and 1st Sgt. Stephon McAffee, headquarters company, Capt. Geoffery Givens and 1st Sgt. Corey Thompson, Forward Support Company...

  • Jay Rakhar, son of 1st Lt. Rainer Rakhar, HHC 841st Engineer Battalion, and his grandfather Jayden prior to the unit's departure ceremony at Miami Dade College, Feb. 4, 2012. The company will deploy to Afghanistan as part of Task Force Hurricane to provide command and control of combat and construction missions. The task force will also collaborate with the Afghan National Army in Regional Command North to improve security, development, and governance of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Phillip Eugene, 412th TEC Public Affairs)

    Jay Rakhar, son of 1st Lt. Rainer Rakhar, HHC...

    Jay Rakhar, son of 1st Lt. Rainer Rakhar, HHC 841st Engineer Battalion, and his grandfather Jayden prior to the unit's departure ceremony at Miami Dade College, Feb. 4, 2012. The company will deploy to Afghanistan as part of Task Force Hurricane to...

  • Miami Jackson Senior High School color guard during the departure ceremony of the 841st Engineer Battalion's headquarters and forward support companies at Miami Dade College, Feb. 4, 2012. Both companies will deploy to Afghanistan as part of Task Force Hurricane to provide command and control of combat and construction missions. The task force will also collaborate with the Afghan National Army in Regional Command North to improve security, development, and governance of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Phillip Eugene, 412th TEC Public Affairs)

    Miami Jackson Senior High School color guard...

    Miami Jackson Senior High School color guard during the departure ceremony of the 841st Engineer Battalion's headquarters and forward support companies at Miami Dade College, Feb. 4, 2012. Both companies will deploy to Afghanistan as part of Task Force...

  • Savannah Maddison, an aspiring Country and Western artist, sings the national anthem during the departure ceremony of the the 841st Engineer Battalion's headquarters and forward support companies at Miami Dade College, Feb. 4, 2012. Maddison, who is an acquaintance Wilson Schaper daughter of Lt. Col. William Schaper, the 841st Engineer Battalion commander, has adopted the unit. Both companies will deploy to Afghanistan as part of Task Force Hurricane to provide command and control of combat and construction missions. The task force will also collaborate with the Afghan National Army in Regional Command North to improve security, development, and governance of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Phillip Eugene, 412th TEC Public Affairs)

    Savannah Maddison, an aspiring Country and...

    Savannah Maddison, an aspiring Country and Western artist, sings the national anthem during the departure ceremony of the the 841st Engineer Battalion's headquarters and forward support companies at Miami Dade College, Feb. 4, 2012. Maddison, who is an...

  • Congressman Allen West addresses the 841st Engineer Battalion's headquarters and forward support companies' departure ceremony at Miami Dade College, Feb. 4, 2012. Both companies will deploy to Afghanistan as part of Task Force Hurricane to provide command and control of combat and construction missions. The task force will also collaborate with the Afghan National Army in Regional Command North to improve security, development, and governance of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Phillip Eugene, 412th TEC Public Affairs)

    Congressman Allen West addresses the 841st...

    Congressman Allen West addresses the 841st Engineer Battalion's headquarters and forward support companies' departure ceremony at Miami Dade College, Feb. 4, 2012. Both companies will deploy to Afghanistan as part of Task Force Hurricane to provide...

  • Lt. Col. William Schaper, commander 841st Engineer Battalion, addresses the audience during the headquarters and forward support companies' departure ceremony at Miami Dade College, Feb. 4, 2012. Seated, (L-R) Florida Governor Rick Scott, 841st Engineer Battalion commander, 926th Engineer Brigade commander Col. Lew Irwin and Miami Dade College president Dr. Jose A. Vicente. Both companies will deploy to Afghanistan as part of Task Force Hurricane to provide command and control of combat and construction missions. The task force will also collaborate with the Afghan National Army in Regional Command North to improve security, development, and governance of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Phillip Eugene, 412th TEC Public Affairs)

    Lt. Col. William Schaper, commander 841st...

    Lt. Col. William Schaper, commander 841st Engineer Battalion, addresses the audience during the headquarters and forward support companies' departure ceremony at Miami Dade College, Feb. 4, 2012. Seated, (L-R) Florida Governor Rick Scott, 841st...

  • Florida Governor Rick Scott addresses the 841st Engineer Battalion's headquarters and forward support companies' departure ceremony at Miami Dade College, Feb. 4, 2012. Both companies will deploy to Afghanistan as part of Task Force Hurricane to provide command and control of combat and construction missions. The task force will also collaborate with the Afghan National Army in Regional Command North to improve security, development, and governance of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Phillip Eugene, 412th TEC Public Affairs)

    Florida Governor Rick Scott addresses the 841st...

    Florida Governor Rick Scott addresses the 841st Engineer Battalion's headquarters and forward support companies' departure ceremony at Miami Dade College, Feb. 4, 2012. Both companies will deploy to Afghanistan as part of Task Force Hurricane to...

  • Soldiers of the 841st Engineer Battalion's headquarters and forward support companies march of the stage following a departure ceremony at Miami Dade College, Feb. 4, 2012. Both companies will deploy to Afghanistan as part of Task Force Hurricane to provide command and control of combat and construction missions. The task force will also collaborate with the Afghan National Army in Regional Command North to improve security, development, and governance of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Phillip Eugene, 412th TEC Public Affairs)

    Soldiers of the 841st Engineer Battalion's...

    Soldiers of the 841st Engineer Battalion's headquarters and forward support companies march of the stage following a departure ceremony at Miami Dade College, Feb. 4, 2012. Both companies will deploy to Afghanistan as part of Task Force Hurricane to...

  • (From L-R) Widmarck Dorilas II, son of Capt. Widmarck Dorilas, HHC 841st Engineer Battalion, Florida Gov. Rick Scott and his wife Ann, Capt. Widmarck Dorilas and his wife Sabine with their daughter Widlynn following a departure ceremony that honored Soldiers of the battalion's headquarters and forward support companies' at Miami Dade College, Feb. 4, 2012. Both companies will deploy to Afghanistan as part of Task Force Hurricane to provide command and control of combat and construction missions. The task force will also collaborate with the Afghan National Army in Regional Command North to improve security, development, and governance of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan. (Photo by Sgt. 1st Class Phillip Eugene, 412th TEC Public Affairs)

    (From L-R) Widmarck Dorilas II, son of Capt...

    (From L-R) Widmarck Dorilas II, son of Capt. Widmarck Dorilas, HHC 841st Engineer Battalion, Florida Gov. Rick Scott and his wife Ann, Capt. Widmarck Dorilas and his wife Sabine with their daughter Widlynn following a departure ceremony that honored...

Lt. Col. William 'Clete' Schaper: "There's a Hurricane in the forecast for northern Afghanistan"

Miami, Fla. -- The men and women of Task Force Hurricane took center stage to a full house as more than 500 people turned out to honor the troops at a deployment farewell ceremony at Miami Dade North Campus Feb. 4.

The 841st Engineer Battalion, armed with 175 Army Strong engineers primarily from the Miami area, will deploy to Afghanistan in a few weeks to support Regional Command North with command and control of combat and construction missions in northern Afghanistan.

They will also partner with the Afghan National Army to improve security, development, and governance of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

Battalion commander Lt. Col. William S. 'Clete' Schaper did not mince words when he delivered an inspiring speech to remind everyone about what it means and what it takes to be an American Soldier, about volunteerism and service and sacrifice for one's country, about diversity as a force multiplier for his unit, his confidence in his Soldiers' ability to get the job done, and about staying true to commitment and dedication to the end to accomplish the mission.

"Today in our country, we talk a lot and hear a lot about who has what, who's done what and who deserves what…the one-percenters who are privileged and the ninety-nine percent who claim who are not. Today I want to talk about America's true one-percenters, the one-percent or less of our population that chooses voluntarily to serve their country. These are America's one-percenters right here. They represent the very best that our country has to offer," Schaper said to a roaring audience.

While many people sit back and drink their lattes and talk about what should or could happen, the commander made it clear that it is the Soldiers that walk the walk, and talk the talk.

"It's the American Soldiers that make things happen for their country. I could not be prouder than I am today to be called their battalion commander," he said with a smile.

"Make no mistake that the journey for Task Force Hurricane will be long and arduous. There will be long hot dusty days on the dirt roads of Afghanistan. We're going to execute difficult missions in a difficult location against a determined enemy. But I will tell you, we have trained long, we have trained hard, we have trained together as a team, we have trained together as a family, and we're ready, we're ready to go. I am supremely confident in the fighting ability of these Hurricane Soldiers," he said.

The commander also honored family members for their dedication and commitment, allowing Soldiers to be able to do their job. He called on local communities to continue to be there for them as their loved ones are deployed to combat. He also acknowledged and was grateful for the support of government and community leaders for their continued support of our troops.

Family member Susane Privett, mother of Spc. David Privett, said she was extremely happy and encouraged to see the huge turnout and support from all aspects of the community. Privett, along with many others who attended the ceremony, had high remarks about the well coordinated event.

"Impressive…truly a first-class set up from start to finish," she said.

Special guests at the event included Governor Rick Scott and his wife Ann, Miami Dade College president Dr. Jose Vicente, Congressman Allen West, 926th Engineer Brigade commander Col. Lew Irwin, and Command Sgt. Maj. Steven M. Hatchell.

West, a retired Army officer, urged the new Soldiers to look at combat veterans for guidance as they have been there before. "Trust the person that's wearing that uniform and you will be back here for your redeployment ceremony," he said.

Following the ceremony, at least 20 members of the U.S. Military Vets Motorcycle Club formed on both sides of the exit way to honor and pay tribute to the Soldiers.

Before heading to Afghanistan, the Soldiers will spend approximately six weeks at Ft Bliss preparing for the overseas mission.

Page last updated Mon February 6th, 2012 at 00:00