News: Ohio engineer units deploy in support of OEF
Story by Amabilia Payen
FORT BLISS, Texas - Two U.S. Army Reserve units from the state of Ohio deployed May 21 from East Fort Bliss in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The 304th Engineer Company and the 961st Engineer Company both will conduct construction missions for the U.S. Army Central Command’s area of operations.
Capt. Andre Barker, commander for the 961st, expressed his excitement to finally get started and head down range.
“I think all the kids are excited to hit the road as well, so we are just glad that this training phase is complete and we are moving onto our mission,” said Barker. “My goal is to keep everybody safe and bring them home.”
First Sgt. Jarrod Boyd, senior enlisted adviser for the 961st, wants to build up his Soldier’s engineer skills while on deployment.
“Whatever they may be interested in learning more of doing then hopefully we can help them out in doing that,” said Boyd. “It may be operating equipment and of course, construction management or the project pieces themselves.”
This deployment will be Spc. Darrell Porter’s second, but for his wife and six kids, it will be their first. Porter is an equipment operator with the 304th Engineer Company.
“The Family Readiness Group back home is helping her get through it and I want to thank my wife for being there for me,” said Porter. “I love her very much.”
Porter hopes this deployment will give him leadership abilities in order to advance in his civilian career with Plastipak Packaging Company.
Compared to his last deployment, Porter was impressed with the training he received here.
“I thought it was awesome,” said Porter. “They try to make everything as realistic as possible. It was similar to my last deployment, but we didn’t have near as big as the facility that is here. Due to lack of space last time, we didn’t get to train as we needed to, but here, it was phenomenal. The civilian contractors … running the simulation trailers, those guys were very good. They did a very good job in explaining what needed to be done and how to do it.”
Col. Eric Larson, deputy commanding officer for the 372nd Eng. Brigade, recalled his mobilization from 2008 when he went through the Directorate of Mobilization and Deployment.
“It’s certainly interesting to see all the growth, and the new opportunities they are given here, and the lessons learned and the improvement that has been done over the years, as we continue to develop and these operations continue,” said Larson. “I certainly appreciate all the support that the community here in El Paso, Fort Bliss, and the families give to the Soldiers as we deploy and continue to do the wartime missions that we have. I also want to thank the employers and the communities for all the outpouring support that they’ve given to the Soldiers when they deploy.”
“For the American public and specifically for all of El Paso, all the support the community has given for our service members for the past 10-plus years, we appreciate it,” said Command Sgt. Major Ty Emmans, senior enlisted adviser for 372nd Eng. Bde. “I mean, again, yeah, we volunteer for this, but if it wasn’t for the support of the American public, we wouldn’t be able to do it without them.”