1st Engineer Battalion cases color for Afghanistan
September 10, 2012
FORT RILEY, Kan. -- Displaying great discipline and honor, "Die Hard" Soldiers of the 1st Engineer Battalion, 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, gathered at the Cavalry Parade Field to case their battalion's colors.
The Sept. 7 ceremony symbolized the unit's nine-month deployment to eastern Afghanistan where they are set to conduct the multi-function operation of combat and construction engineering.
"You just witnessed the unit case their colors," said Col. Michael Pappal, 1st ABCT commander. "This signifies the completion of their training and preparations for deployment. The Soldiers standing proudly on the field today have been working long and hard to ensure that they can aggressively find and remove IEDS in order to keep the routes in their area of operations open and safe for use by NATO forces and local Afghans while minimizing risk to themselves."
In preparation for the deployment, the "Die Hards" focused their training on the things that qualified them as combat engineers.
The Soldiers completed the route reconnaissance clearance course (R2C2) at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., where they trained in all facets of route clearance. They conducted company and battalion route clearance operations and completed their final mission rehearsal exercise in June at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif.
An additional significance of this deployment, Lt. Col. Thomas Hairgrove, 1st Eng. Bn. Commander said, is the battalion's return to combat with the "Big Red One" and its first combat tour with the 555th Engineer Brigade.
The 1st Eng. Bn. is aligned under the 1st ABCT, but its higher headquarters is the 555th Eng. Bde., based at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
"In the 166 years since its formation, the Soldiers of this battalion have written its history using hard fought names such as Vera Cruz, Antietam and Santiago," Hairgrove said.
"Beginning in World War I, as an original unit of the 1st Infantry Division, they added names such as Meuse-Argonee, Normandy, Lei Khe, Kuwait and Ramadi. Earlier this week, our advanced party departed for Afghanistan to prepare for the battalion's arrival (and) the names Logar, Wardak, Paktia and Paktika will undoubtedly find their place into our storied history."
As the oldest and most decorated engineer battalion in the United States Army, Hairgrove said his engineers continue to prove their abilities to overcome challenges and demonstrate they are fully prepared for the fight ahead.
"The Soldiers are trained and ready," Hairgrove said. "They've put in a lot of work and effort and I am completely confident the Soldiers will execute their mission above standards and get the job done."