FORT BENNING, Ga. (June 13, 2012) -- The 63rd Engineer Company (Horizontal) shoved off this week for a nine-month deployment to Afghanistan, where Soldiers will deconstruct facilities no longer functional or required ahead of the planned withdrawal of U.S. forces.

The departure took place in two waves Sunday and Monday. Family, friends and colleagues turned out in the company area on Main Post to say goodbye before the Soldiers boarded buses for Lawson Army Airfield.
For some, it was an all-too-familiar scene. Others headed into harm's way for the first time, including 2nd Lt. Christopher Gibbs, the Maintenance Section platoon leader.

"The mission of fighting counterinsurgency is still very important. … Dealing with the local the populace and building support and trust networks is vital at any level," he said. "We want to make sure we leave on a good note and not a bad one. … All we can do is be as prepared as we can, trust in our training and move forward. You never know what's going to come your way."

With rain falling outside, Spc. Brian Hernandez-Snyder, a driver who's been in the Army for two years, played with his 6-year-old son, George, under a stairwell prior to final formation. His Family, including wife Marcela and 17-year-old daughter, Raquel, will live in their hometown of Toledo, Ohio, until he returns from his first deployment.

"I'm really sad about leaving, but it's going to be a different experience. I'm always up for new challenges," the Soldier said. "I know I'm going to come back. … I'm not worried at all because in my law enforcement background, I've already been shot at, nearly killed a couple of times (and) been in high-speed pursuits. So I'm not worried about that."

Raquel said she's seen close relatives leave for combat in the desert and return safely, but it's a bit tougher this time.

"He's going to miss my 18th birthday and a lot of my senior (year in high school), so it's gonna be a little different at home," she said. "All I can do is hope he knows what he's doing out there."

This marks the company's first trip downrange since 2009, when it returned from a 15-month stint in Iraq.
Sgt. 1st Class Timothy Kiernan, a motor and platoon sergeant, wasn't around for that but said this will be his fourth career deployment. He also served in Kosovo, Iraq and Afghanistan before at the outset of Operation Enduring Freedom.

"I have great Soldiers. They're very well trained, very well disciplined," he said. "I have a lot of confidence in them, and I have a lot of confidence in this mission. … We talk to them on a daily basis about the possibilities down there and what to look out for.

"I put myself in a different state of mind. It's just a regular job, it really is. We live this way every day and do the same job. It'll be the same job over there. This is what we do. We'll just complete the mission and come home."