After dry spell, 15th Engineer Battalion deploys
Oct 15, 2010
Photo by Nathan Van Schaik, USAG Schweinfurt Public Affairs
Lt. Col. Craig Baumgartner (left, foreground) cases battalion colors with Command Sgt. Maj. Bradley Houston at a ceremony Oct. 15 on Conn Barracks marking the battalion’s departure to Kuwait. A casing ceremony is a time-honored military tradition symbolizing the movement of a unit.
SCHWEINFURT, Germany – Soldiers with the 18th Engineer Brigade, 15th Engineer Battalion are gearing up for deployment to Kuwait. Their colors were “cased” at a ceremony here Oct. 15 at Conn Barracks marking their departure from Schweinfurt and their first wartime deployment in decades.
While deployed, the battalion will augment engineering capabilities within its area of responsibility.
“Our mission and purpose is clear,” said Battalion Commander, Lt. Col. Craig Baumgartner, as the ceremony’s host. “To conduct engineering operations in support of our future higher headquarters, Area Support Group-Kuwait, and to maintain and improve critical missions in the Kuwait theater.”
A casing ceremony is a time-honored military tradition symbolizing the movement of a unit. The battalion last cased their colors upon their arrival in Schweinfurt during the summer of 2008.
The 15th EN Bn. has not deployed in a wartime environment since 1969 when it redeployed from the Mekong Delta in Vietnam.
“The 15th EN Bn. on the field today is going to end a 41-year dry spell,” said Colonel Paul M. Paolozzi, commander, 18th Engineer Brigade. “There is nothing like sitting on the sidelines and being told that you’ll get your chance, you’ll get your opportunity. Well today is that opportunity.”
Deploying companies include the Headquarter and Headquarter Co., Forward Support Co., 500th Horizontal Engineer Co. and the 902nd Vertical Engineer Co.
Approximately 450 Soldiers from the battalion will deploy downrange, according to rear detachment executive officer, 1st Lt. Ed Mallue, leaving behind friends and family in Schweinfurt. The rear detachment, or Delta Company, will also remain in Schweinfurt.
“The rear detachment is a representative of the battalion commander and the command sergeant major in support of spouses and personnel left behind,” said D Co. and rear detachment commander, Capt. Ervin Purvis. “We will be eyes and ears for the battalion here in Schweinfurt while the battalion is deployed.”
“Our job is to maintain the continuity of support to the families of the 15th Engineers,” said Teresa Burns who, as the Family Readiness Support Assistant, spoke on behalf of the battalion commander and the family readiness groups. Burns will coordinate a two-way means of communication between deployed Soldiers and their families, she said.
Asked what friends and families should do to cope with the stress of having loved ones deployed downrange, Burns emphasized the significance of staying busy.
“Stay busy by participating in volunteer positions. Participate in the community. Go to school. Participate in the battalion and look for your own internal network,” Burns said.
Story by Nathan Van Schaik, USAG Schweinfurt Public Affairs