News: 876th engineers make Georgia National Guard history
Story by Tulara McCauley
FORT BLISS, Texas – The 876th Engineer Company, which is the final Georgia National Guard engineer company to be deployed to Afghanistan, departed from the Arrival Departure Air Control Group, here, July 25.
The 876th Engineer Vertical Construction Company, 878th Engineer Battalion, 648th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, from Toccoa, Georgia, embarked on a mission to support Operation Enduring Freedom. First Sgt. Danny Williamson was charged with ensuring the success of the mission and the safety of his troops. Williamson’s 25 years experience with the Toombs county sheriff’s office prepared him for the ultimate responsibility of leading Soldiers in conducting vertical construction tasks in a war zone.
Williamson explained that the 876th will process equipment for retrograde to other bases, perform Forward Operating Base deconstruction and train Afghan engineers. The 876th will provide the Afghan nationals practical construction experience by conducting joint hands-on projects. While the unit is there, it will also conduct repair and construction operations including plumbing, electrical work, carpentry, and concrete work for facilities in their assigned area of operations.
Williamson has confidence in his troop’s capabilities.
“My Soldiers are ready to go,” said Williamson. “Although the majority of the troops have not deployed, our leadership has experienced multiple deployments. DoMaD took good care of us during our mobilization.”
Sgt. Christina Webb, an electrician with the 876th, was prepared for her third deployment. This deployment differs from her first two because she and her husband are deploying together.
The couple met in Iraq when their respective Guard units deployed. Once they returned to the states and married, her husband moved from Georgia to Columbia, South Carolina, to live with Webb and her three children. In true give-and-take fashion, Christina transferred from the South Carolina Guard to the Georgia Guard, so the couple would be in the same unit. They commute the 180 miles, from Columbia, S.C. to Toccoa, Ga., for their monthly Battle Assembly.
Webb is prepared for the new dynamic of being deployed with her spouse. While there is a possibility they will be quartered together, they fall under a separate chain of command.
“We have to keep our personal relationship separate from the military,” Webb simply stated.
Webb’s main mission will be to guide her subordinate Soldiers through new experiences as they conduct facilities maintenance and construction training. She is also dedicated to bringing everybody back safely.
“I’ve been with the unit 18 months and was hand-selected by the unit for the mission,” said Webb. “We have come together as a unit.”
Back home in Columbia, Webb’s children are facing a third deployment without their mother. Webb is confident that both sets of young people will persevere.
“My children have been associated with the military all their life,” said Webb. “Although deployments are still hard on them, they all deal with it well. My kids and my mom are my biggest supporters.”
Sgt. Quantez Harper, one of two medics in the units, volunteered for deployment, which delayed his plans to graduate from college this past May. The sacrifice was one that Harper was willing to make.
“I have always wanted to deploy while in the service, so it was a matter of now-or-never,” said Harper.
Although Harper only joined the unit in April, he bonded with his fellow Soldiers. “I have the confidence that everyone is in the right mind set and will do their jobs to come home safe.”
This is Harper’s second deployment and he has experienced a smooth mobilization process.
“We didn’t have anything to worry about thanks to DoMaD,” said Harper. “Transportation was ready and available. I’m definitely looking forward to coming back and demobilizing through DoMaD.”
Harper’s wife and 2-year-old son will stay in touch with Harper by using technology that will help him to watch his son grow. Harper’s wife, Natalia, didn’t want him to deploy, but fully supports him in fulfilling his patriotic duty. Harper has reenlisted for six more years and he is grateful that both his mother’s and wife’s families are holding down the home front.