Photo By Pvt. J. Alex Klein | A soldier from the 120th Engineer Battalion and an Airman from the 219 Engineering Installation Squadron stand shoulder to shoulder showing off the Oklahoma patches.
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KANDAHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – When asked about ideas for a title for a news article about the mission of the Oklahoma Air National Guard’s 219th Engineer Installation Squadron, the response was “Give ‘em the birds!”
This is in reference to two of the major patches worn by Oklahoma Troops: The Scissor-tail Flycatcher (Oklahoma State Bird) worn by the 219th Air Guard EIS, and the famous Thunderbird worn by the 120th Engineer Battalion. For this tour, the 219th EIS is part of a larger team spread across Regional Command (RC)-South that includes the 205th and 277th EIS.
The 219th EIS currently provides communications support for the 120th En. Bn. by rerouting and installing new cables during remodeling of the Valhalla Command Compound, the 120th En. Bn.’s base of operations. The work the 219th EIS provides allows the 120th En. Bn. to more efficiently carry out their operations and communicate more effectively.
“It’s great to work with other Oklahomans,” said Air Guard Staff Sgt. David Wintrich. He said his favorite thing about working with other Oklahomans across service branches is, “the camaraderie, the understanding of the lingo and just the way we all work together; the bond that we already have between people that live just minutes from each other.”
Other Airmen shared the sentiment as they spoke about the mission and the work across service branches. “I love it,” Senior Airman Garrett Davis said of working with fellow Oklahomans. “It’s kind of inspiring, because we’re helping out fellow Oklahomans, ya know, just people from back home. We have similar interests, football rivalries and other stuff.”
“I’ve acquainted myself with Sergeant Major Raby (120th En. Bn. command sergeant major),” Davis continued. “I went to school at Oklahoma State University in Stillwater with his son. When I found out who the sergeant major was, I had to introduce myself. It’s a small world.”
The Airmen from the 219th EIS will continue working with the 120th En. Bn. for a little while longer before moving on throughout RC-South to assist other units in their missions as well.
It’s not very often that units from the same state, much less neighboring towns, get to work together. Both the soldiers and Airmen working side by side on this project expressed they will carry a few extra memories from working together, as well as make a few new acquaintances to carry with them back home. For now, these troops stand “Shoulder to Shoulder, Givin’ ‘Em the Birds.’”
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This work, Give 'em the Birds, by PV2 J. Alex Klein, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.