By Dustin Senger (Fort Carson)August 18, 2011
FORT CARSON, Colo. -- Hundreds of Soldiers from 4th Engineer Battalion assembled to case the colors of two companies Aug. 12, as the units' final formal step toward deploying for route-clearing missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Capt. Jeff Burges, 576th Engineer Company, and Capt. Mike Custer, 62nd Sapper Company, reported to the battalion headquarters with almost 300 Soldiers. Fort Carson and community leaders had gathered with Family members and friends to witness the company commanders case each unit's colors.
"The 'Vanguards' (4th Eng. Bn.) are no strangers to the lands in which they're about to deploy," said Col. Michael W. Brobeck, 555th Engineer Brigade commander. The brigade commander had arrived from Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash.
Brobeck is responsible for eight battalions, numbering more than 4,000 Soldiers, stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Fort Carson, as well as Fort Riley, Kan. He promptly described a recent deployment to Baghdad, when the 4th Eng. Bn. was abruptly reassigned to Afghanistan, after just 90 days in Iraq.
"They picked up the entire battalion and conducted the largest move ever conducted, from one combat theater to another, since World War II," said Brobeck. "And they got lifted into Afghanistan, right to where the 576th is going to go, into southern Afghanistan. So they're not strangers to any of those lands.
"The 62nd Sapper Company will join the 20th Eng. Bde. (in Iraq) … clearing the routes, so as we continue to conduct a responsible retrograde out of that theater of operations, they'll be out there making sure those routes are clear for coalition forces.
"The Soldiers have trained hard and are well prepared for their missions," said Brobeck, who highlighted the strong leadership exhibited by engineers today. Company commanders are increasingly deploying "independent of their battalions," they effectively "plug into a (brigade combat team) or a fellow battalion."
Lt. Col. Bryan Green, 4th Eng. Bn. commander, commended the Soldiers for training hard in preparation for the battlefields. The hardest part, he said, is watching the companies deploy while the headquarters and forward support companies remain behind.
"I just want you to know, while you're deployed forward, we've got your back," said Green. "And in return, one day you'll have ours."
Green presented the Army Corps of Engineers flag to Steve Randolph, Woodland Park mayor, and David Buttery, city manager. While the combat engineers secure routes in hostile areas, the red-and-white flag will fly at Lions Memorial Park, near the intersection of U.S. Highway 24 and state Route 67, said Randolph.
"It's a reminder to the community that we have fellow community members deployed in harm's way," said Randolph. "And we need to be mindful of that every day. And we must never take that for granted."
"The sooner it starts, the sooner it ends," said Emily Morrissey, wife of Staff Sgt. Gary Morrissey, 576th Eng., while gathering her two young daughters and infant son after the ceremony. The parents have been preparing their children using books, videos and "daddy dolls."
"We have a really good support team " we're all friends," said Emily Morrissey, referring to the company's Family readiness group. "If one of us needs something, we can depend on each other … even if it's just to cry for a little bit."
"I'm ready to go and get the job accomplished and see my Family again," said Gary Morrissey, ahead of his fourth deployment in support of overseas contingency operations. "I'm looking forward to a fast year.
"We just want to go there, hit the ground and do our jobs: start clearing roads."