FORT POLK, La. -- In a unit that will be training Soldiers to advise Iraqi and Afghan security forces, deployments will not be uncommon.

A recent deployment for the 162nd Infantry Brigade, however, proved to be a rare opportunity.
Second Lt. Wendel S. Walters, assigned to the brigade's 1st Battalion, 353rd Infantry Regiment, has the distinction of being the first Soldier assigned to the brigade to deploy in 44 years.

Walters is currently assigned to the Mine Action Center at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan, where he will work for six months before returning to Fort Polk.
Afghanistan is one of many combat operation theaters in the 162nd's distinguished lineage. Others include Central Europe, Rhineland, Lorraine, St. Migiel, Meuse Argonne and Vietnam.

Walters said the job will tie directly into his area of expertise as an engineer branch officer. He will be working at Bagram as an engineer conducting mine clearing operations.
"The lessons and experience that I gain from deployment will allow me to share the latest tactics, techniques and procedures with the combat advisors that we will train at Fort Polk," Walters said.

The value of this combat experience cannot be understated, according to Walters.
Having a Soldier that has "been there and done that," lends credence to the block of instruction and provides better training to those service members that will deploy for 12 months to train, teach and advise foreign security forces.

For Walters, mission success in theater will directly translate to a successful mission here once he returns.
"When I return, I will move to 4th Battalion, 353rd Infantry, to assist in counter (improvised explosive device) training for combat advisors in preparation for deployment," he said.