By Andrea StoneJune 5, 2014
WOODLAND PARK -- For more than 1,000 days, every day that a 4th Engineer Battalion company has been deployed, the battalion colors have flown over Lions Memorial Park in Woodland Park.
The colors came down May 28, 2014, after the last company returned. Lt. Col. Daniel Hibner relinquished command of the battalion May 30, 2014.
"It feels good to be able to bring everybody home right before I leave, (after) not having my whole battalion on U.S. soil at the same time (during my command). It's significant and very special to me," he said.
The partnership between Woodland Park and the battalion goes back to 1992 when the relationship was formalized by resolution of the city council, said David Buttery, city manager. There was a three-year period when battalions were reorganized and 4th Eng. Bn. ceased to exist.
"The symbolism of the 4th Eng. Bn. with this community is strong," he said. "About four years ago, the battalion commander came to me and said, 'Let's only fly the engineer flag when we have Soldiers who are deployed and in harm's way so the community knows that their friends are protecting them."
The colors have flown since August 2011.
"We're just shy of three years that these colors have flown over Woodland Park every single day," Hibner said. "Equally remarkable is that we've had a company deployed every single day for almost three years running."
Capt. Donald Schmidt is commander of the 576th Engineer Company, 4th Eng. Bn. His company was the last to return.
"It was actually pretty cool. I knew that Woodland Park always supported our battalion," he said. "So it's pretty cool to be the last ones back, and hopefully the last ones back for a while."
Buttery, as a 4th Eng. Bn. Soldier, was at the initial ceremony in 1992 when the relationship was formally recognized.
"It's a wonderful thing," he said. "What's amazing is that we've been able to maintain this relationship for 22 years … we've been blessed with command teams that have allowed us to develop that relationship."
Hibner said he appreciated the close relationship between the Soldiers and the community.
"Support is always appreciated, especially when you realize that no Soldier stands alone," he said. "We thrive in our jobs because of the support of our Families and our communities, the support of the American people. Knowing that we remain in the thoughts of our Families and friends back home provides a comfort and a drive in the daily dangers of combat."
After the flag was lowered and folded, it was presented to Hibner, who then presented it to Carrol Harvey, Woodland Park mayor pro-tem, "to be flown again, if and when the time comes."