Lt. Col. William 'Clete' Schaper: "There's a Hurricane in the forecast for northern Afghanistan"

Miami, Fla. -- The men and women of Task Force Hurricane took center stage to a full house as more than 500 people turned out to honor the troops at a deployment farewell ceremony at Miami Dade North Campus Feb. 4.

The 841st Engineer Battalion, armed with 175 Army Strong engineers primarily from the Miami area, will deploy to Afghanistan in a few weeks to support Regional Command North with command and control of combat and construction missions in northern Afghanistan.

They will also partner with the Afghan National Army to improve security, development, and governance of the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan.

Battalion commander Lt. Col. William S. 'Clete' Schaper did not mince words when he delivered an inspiring speech to remind everyone about what it means and what it takes to be an American Soldier, about volunteerism and service and sacrifice for one's country, about diversity as a force multiplier for his unit, his confidence in his Soldiers' ability to get the job done, and about staying true to commitment and dedication to the end to accomplish the mission.

"Today in our country, we talk a lot and hear a lot about who has what, who's done what and who deserves what…the one-percenters who are privileged and the ninety-nine percent who claim who are not. Today I want to talk about America's true one-percenters, the one-percent or less of our population that chooses voluntarily to serve their country. These are America's one-percenters right here. They represent the very best that our country has to offer," Schaper said to a roaring audience.

While many people sit back and drink their lattes and talk about what should or could happen, the commander made it clear that it is the Soldiers that walk the walk, and talk the talk.

"It's the American Soldiers that make things happen for their country. I could not be prouder than I am today to be called their battalion commander," he said with a smile.

"Make no mistake that the journey for Task Force Hurricane will be long and arduous. There will be long hot dusty days on the dirt roads of Afghanistan. We're going to execute difficult missions in a difficult location against a determined enemy. But I will tell you, we have trained long, we have trained hard, we have trained together as a team, we have trained together as a family, and we're ready, we're ready to go. I am supremely confident in the fighting ability of these Hurricane Soldiers," he said.

The commander also honored family members for their dedication and commitment, allowing Soldiers to be able to do their job. He called on local communities to continue to be there for them as their loved ones are deployed to combat. He also acknowledged and was grateful for the support of government and community leaders for their continued support of our troops.

Family member Susane Privett, mother of Spc. David Privett, said she was extremely happy and encouraged to see the huge turnout and support from all aspects of the community. Privett, along with many others who attended the ceremony, had high remarks about the well coordinated event.

"Impressive…truly a first-class set up from start to finish," she said.

Special guests at the event included Governor Rick Scott and his wife Ann, Miami Dade College president Dr. Jose Vicente, Congressman Allen West, 926th Engineer Brigade commander Col. Lew Irwin, and Command Sgt. Maj. Steven M. Hatchell.

West, a retired Army officer, urged the new Soldiers to look at combat veterans for guidance as they have been there before. "Trust the person that's wearing that uniform and you will be back here for your redeployment ceremony," he said.

Following the ceremony, at least 20 members of the U.S. Military Vets Motorcycle Club formed on both sides of the exit way to honor and pay tribute to the Soldiers.

Before heading to Afghanistan, the Soldiers will spend approximately six weeks at Ft Bliss preparing for the overseas mission.