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    Washington state engineers return from Middle East

    Washington state engineers return from Middle East

    Photo By Adam Holguin | Soldiers of the 176th Engineer Company take a moment of reflection and thanks after...... read more read more



    Story by Adam Holguin 

    Mobilization and Deployment, DPTMS Fort Bliss

    The 176th Engineer Company returned to their home state of Washington after completing a nine-month deployment to the Middle East in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. After arriving stateside Dec. 23, 2016, the unit returned to the Evergreen State after completing the demobilization process with the Directorate of Plans, Training, Mobilization and Security Dec. 30, 2016.

    “The deployment went really, really well,” said Capt. Brandon Myers, commander, 176th Eng. Co. “The unit was the spearhead element for a battalion and brigade sized element (at) 11 different locations over Iraq and Kuwait. We completed 29 large projects totaling $9.1 million.”

    The unit provided a wide range of vertical engineering services to a number of projects throughout the U.S. Central Command area of operations. The high amount of projects spread across numerous locations across Iraq and Kuwait, provided both a scheduling and manpower challenge as well as provided an opportunity for all Soldiers in the company to challenge themselves professionally.

    “Our junior leaders had the opportunity to really take a lot of responsibility on and shine … As far as Soldiers maturing, I think 100 percent across the board, we had a lot of first time deployers and a lot of Soldiers that had the opportunity to really have skin in the game and take responsibility of their work and take a lot of pride in that,” said Capt. Brandon Buehler, 1st Platoon leader, 176th Eng. Co. “You can see the difference now with the Soldiers that we have in our formation we have today as opposed to nine months ago.”

    The variety of projects ranged from construction and expansion of airfields, improvement and refurbishments of existing structures, expansion of base perimeters and fighting positions, and building temporary and permanent structures for life support, reconnaissance, operations and force protection purposes. The company also built tables and other pieces of furniture that were dispersed throughout the area of operations.

    “It was very difficult. There was more mission than what one vertical construction company could handle, so we were spread extremely thin. And we were constantly having to shift guys around, not just by team, but we had to dig down to the MOS level just to get the right people to the right locations for each project,” Myers said.

    The company completed projects in a variety of locations, mostly in Iraq, with a fair amount being completed at Al Asad Airbase, Tahir Airfield, Camp Swift and Al-Taqaddum Airbase.

    “Most definitely there was growth in Soldiers. At each location, Soldiers as low as sergeant answering to lieutenant colonel and colonel landowners about the projects on their individual bases,” Myers said. “It also allowed for a lot of cross training out of necessity. We had to have a lot more Soldiers training and learning electrical tasks so that we could meet the requirements in theater.”

    For Staff Sgt. Kyle Wilson, noncommissioned officer in charge, construction operations, he said he would remember the character Soldiers of the 176th Eng. Co. consistently exhibited throughout the deployment.

    “The main thing that came out of this deployment is how resilient people are,” Wilson said. “Being split up into multiple different locations with different people … keeping squad or even team integrity was difficult, it was a unique challenge. But it was one we took in stride and were able to accomplish.”

    After 22-plus years in the National Guard, Sgt. Lawrence Softich, carpenter, 176th Eng. Co., is planning on retiring after returning home to his family and to the friendly Pacific Northwest.

    “I have probably inhaled or washed off more dirt than I ever thought possible,” Softich said. “I’m happy getting out of the desert.”

    After nine months of hard work in some harsh conditions, most everyone in the company was excited to return to Washington to begin 2017 with friends and family.

    “To just be back home with family, that’s what I am most looking forward to,” Myers said. “Get back home and enjoying the American amenities that we have.”



    Date Taken: 01.19.2017
    Date Posted: 01.20.2017 17:41
    Story ID: 220873
    Location: FORT BLISS, TX, US 
    Hometown: SEATTLE, WA, US

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