By Douglas DeMaio, USAG Bamberg Public AffairsFebruary 4, 2009
BAMBERG, Germany -- After returning from a two-month tour in Romania around August, Soldiers from 541st Engineer Company have reset, refit, trained and are once more deploying in support of our nation's call to duty.
Only this time, the troops will be deploying to a combat zone and their primary mission will be to protect their fellow service members from Improvised Explosive Devices, mines, roadside bombs and unexploded ordnance.
After just a few short months of sending Soldiers to a variety of mission-oriented courses for their deployment and training in Bamberg, Grafenwoehr and Hohenfels, "I can look each Soldier in the eye and tell them that I am proud to be their commander and to lead them into combat," said Capt. Clinton Brown, company commander, during the unit's deployment ceremony Jan. 22 at the Freedom Fitness Facility. "We have grown together and have developed a strong bond. I have full confidence in their abilities, and the abilities of their leadership."
These engineers, some of who are Sappers, will provide a route-clearance package for troops in Regional Command East of Afghanistan, Brown said. A route-clearance package helps war fighting units directly by indentifying explosives that may interrupt, hinder or delay operations, missions or tasks.
"I'm confident in going down range with my company," said Spc. Alexander Oler, a team leader who will be deploying to a combat zone for the first time. Oler said the engineers received an exuberant amount of training on the combat environment in which they will operate, great feedback on the explosives being used by insurgent and technical expertise on the equipment they will use.
The Soldiers will use Husky mine detection vehicles an RG-31 or Buffalo Armed Personnel Carrier, Brown said. The vehicles are durable and are known to have protected operators from double-stacked anti-tank mines.
One of the challenges for the company was to train for the deployment while the unit's battalion was deployed to Iraq. Command Sgt. Maj. Eric Omundson, 54th Engineer Battalion, said the difficulties of being deployed for seven months while trying to maintain oversight of one of the company's train up and progress was difficult.
"That's a big challenge," Omundson said, who was on leave with the battalion commander to attend the company's deployment ceremony. "We have three companies in three different regions."
To mitigate some of the challenges, the company worked closely with the 15th Engineer Battalion in Schweinfurt. "It was a blessing to have them here while we were in Iraq," Omundson said.
The relationship between the two units "has been unusual, but absolutely essential," Brown said during the ceremony. "You have done a great job in getting us to this point and we will not forget it."
The quick turnaround from the deployment in Romania may not have been conducive to most of the personnel in the unit, but some people did find the situation to be beneficial. "I think the deployment to Romania got me prepared," said Marissa Niemeyer, whose husband, Pfc. Richard Niemeyer, is deploying.
Marissa said not having her husband here will be difficult at times, but understands his deployment is necessary. "I'm sad," Marissa said. "I'm going to miss him."
She said she will miss the daily interaction and conversations the couple have while living in a garrison environment. Being able to talk with him about her day or communicating an exciting moment for her now may have to wait. Having the security and comfort of his presence will temporarily be on hold.
"Those are the things I'm going to miss," she said. "I just want him to come back safe."