News: 1223rd Engineer Company return safely from OEF
Story by Amabilia Payen
FORT BLISS, Texas - An Army National Guard unit from South Carolina returned to U.S. soil May 4, at the Silas L. Copeland Departure/Arrival Airfield Control Group on East Fort Bliss after a yearlong deployment in Afghanistan.
The 1223rd Engineer Company, 178th Eng. Battalion, based out of Summerville, South Carolina, conducted deconstruction operations in the areas of Regional Command South and claimed a record of having the most deconstructed areas an engineer company could take.
Brig. Gen. R. Van McCarty, deputy adjutant general of South Carolina, welcomed each and every Soldier assigned to the 1223rd by shaking their hands and giving them a heartfelt, “Welcome home!”
“They are an outstanding unit,” said McCarty. “They went through some real challenges to get ready for this deployment. The leadership really came in, stood up the unit, and did a great job in bringing Soldiers in and getting them trained and qualified. They went and did an outstanding job … we are very proud of them.”
The 1223rd is normally a unit that constructs buildings in order to facilitate operations in theater, according to McCarty, so deconstruction was a new capacity.
However, a group of electrical engineers within the unit were given the opportunity to assist an Afghan all girl’s school in the district of Qalat inside the providence of Zabul by donating solar power batteries and computers. Sixteen solar panels weren’t working at the Bibi Khala Girls School, due to an overuse of panels linked to one battery. About five 1223rd electricians rewired all the panels to donated batteries and changed out inverters to make the panels operational. Once electricity was restored, the donated computers were up and running for the girls to use. This job normally would take about a week to complete, but 1223rd electricians did it in only three days.
Spc. Nicole Seavey, recalled the joy the young Afghan girls demonstrated when they were able to turn on their computers for the first time.
“I think it was a really great experience just seeing all the girls, when we had the computers up -just seeing their faces and how much they appreciated everything that we have done,” said Seavey. “It was awesome.” Although skilled in her electrical work, Seavey plans to attend Charleston South Carolina University to become an algebra teacher.
“I definitely want to say thank you for everybody that supported me throughout everything,” said Seavey. “I definitely could not have done it without my parents and my little sister, and everybody else with the [Family Readiness Group] and everybody was just so awesome and it made [deployment] a lot easier.”
All Soldiers assigned to the 1223rd Eng. Company will participate in the Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program, where they will receive resources and assistance 30, 60 and 90 days after deployment.
“We will actively work with them if they don’t have a job,” said McCarty. “We are finding that it is a critical part of the Soldiers reintegration process, for them to be able to go back to work. They really need to be feeling that they are doing something to support their family and we work hard to make sure that we assist them in any way that we can in that process.”
McCarty expressed his gratitude to the Soldiers and civilians working with the Directorate of Mobilization and Deployment.
“We are very pleased with the whole process here,” said McCarty. “They stress the importance of the Soldiers going through medical and making sure they get things taken care of. From start to finish, it’s a first class job … and I want to thank the staff here for what they have done in taking care of our Soldiers.”