News: Massachusetts Guardsmen return from Afghanistan
Story by Claudia Kennedy
FORT BLISS - Approximately 84 soldiers of the the 182nd Engineer Company, National Guardsmen from Newburyport, Mass., arrived at Biggs Army Airfield on Nov. 14, after completing a 10-month deployment in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. As the soldiers disembarked the plane, they were greeted by members of their command group and the Directorate of Mobilization and Deployment.
This is the second deployment for the 182nd Engineer Company. They provided route clearance operations in Kandahar Province, Afghanistan. According to company commander, Capt. Michael R. Bouchard, the 182nd cleared 35,000 kilometers, encountered 96 improvised explosive device events, and cleared 70 percent of IEDs. Out of 84 soldiers in the company, 55 received combat action badges and two combat medic badges.
“It was really tough the first few months of deployment. We were hitting a lot of IEDs because of the terrain we were encountering. We used our equipment to its full potential, and we were able to get everyone home safe,” said Spc. Michael G. Demers, a combat engineer assigned to the 182nd Engineer Company.
“The line platoons did fantastic jobs covering the routes. As National Guardsmen, we never get a chance to work as full time soldiers. This is the only chance we get to deploy for a year at a time. It was good to see many of the young soldiers and even leaders grow during the deployment,” said Staff Sgt. Jason B. Tierney, a combat engineer assigned to the 182nd Engineer Company.
With a safe return to Fort Bliss, the 182nd Engineer Company will undergo the required demobilization processing. Army standard allows up to 14 days to complete this process. DoMaD has streamlined the process, cutting it down to about 8 to 9 days allowing the soldier to get home to his or her family sooner. Although the process is shortened, DoMaD ensures 100 percent accountability for all out-processing requirements, so the Soldier and his or her family are cared for with zero deficiencies in their admin documents.
“The biggest accomplishment is getting all our soldiers home safe,” said 1st Sgt. Glen R. Bona.
Demers, who is on his second deployment, said “We built relationships with the people of Afghanistan everywhere we went. It was clear by the time we left. Kids were wearing Red Sox hats. It was good.” Demers, from North Attleboro, Mass., is excited to get home to his family and friends and start his new job as a police officer.